About that queue for the business class loo...

By David Flynn , July 22 2016
About that queue for the business class loo...

TALKING POINT | Waiting for the WC in business class is all too easily dismissed as a ‘first-world problem’.

And perhaps it is, when the rest of your time flying at the pointy end is so good: the well-appointed airport lounge, the comfortable seat, the restaurant-grade meal before you stretch out to grab some shut-eye on that fully-flat bed.

But maybe that’s why having to line up to use the business class lav can be an ill fit in the overall experience.

The queue factor ticks up if your airline of choice offers inflight pyjamas – changing into (and again out of) those ‘sleep suits’ not only increases the demand for loos but also the time spent in them.

This struck me on a flight from Sydney to Los Angeles in one of Virgin Australia’s Boeing 777-300ERs refitted with airline’s swish new business class.

AusBT review: Virgin Australia 'The Business', Sydney-Los Angeles, Boeing 777-300ER

The redesigned cabin sports 37 of Virgin’s stylish seats and three lavs – two at the very front of the main cabin, and a third nestled next to the bar area. 

That’s a traveller-to-toilet ratio of just over 12:1, which turns out to be on the generous side of the ledger.

Emirates' Airbus A380 has just five loos for 76 passengers (15:1), while Etihad's superjumbos pare that ratio back to 14:1.

On Singapore Airlines' A380 the ratio varies between 10:1 and 14:1 depending on which version of its superjumbo you end up flying in. 

If you’ve ever sat in Qantas A380 business class, drumming your fingers (and perhaps crossing your legs) waiting for that green light – a signal which quite literally means you’re ‘good to go’ – here’s the reason why.

The Red Roo's loo count sees just four WCs shared between 64 business class passengers and, for two of those loos, the 35-seat premium economy cabin.

(Qantas used to set aside four bathrooms for its business class passengers plus two more for premium economy, but rejigged both the seat and toilet count when it reconfigured the twelve-strong A380 fleet in mid-2013.)

What’s your experience with ‘loo queue’ when flying business class?

Follow Australian Business Traveller on Twitter: we’re @AusBT

David

David Flynn is the Editor-in-Chief of Executive Traveller and a bit of a travel tragic with a weakness for good coffee, shopping and lychee martinis.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 Jun 2014

Total posts 38

My beef is not so much with the number, but with the size of loo's. They are getting smaller and smaller (Qantas 737 refit for example). Fortunately on the A380 in business those front two loo's are on the large side, suitable for the sleep suit change. Pity the others don't provide this level of comfort. Will be interested in what the 1st class loo's are like on the Qantas a380 when I travel next year, or will I still scoot upstairs to the business class loo's to change?

Qantas

22 Oct 2012

Total posts 278

You'll be very pleased with the toilets on the QF A380 in F.  There are 2 for the exclusive use of 14 pax.  Occasionally a J pax will come down the grand staircase to use one, but if a FA notices they'll politely tell them to go back upstairs.

 

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

I've never been inconvenienced waiting for an EK A380 or EK777 Business facility, my favourites are the ones against the fuselage with a window. Always lovely to visit for the consistent burr walnut finish seat and fresh flowers and squirt of Bvlgari fragrance. The real test is that its hopefully found in good clean condition.

JTG
JTG

Singapore Airlines - The PPS Club

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 42

12:1 or 14:1 seems luxurious when compared to Qantas' A330-200. I often travel to Singapore and this plane is often on the overnight flight back with one toilet for 28 people. Trying to freshen up and get out of the pyjamas is a hassle with everyone trying to maximise their sleep

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2011

Total posts 29

That is my only gripe about the A330-200 with the 1:28 ratio.

On a flight from Jakarta to Sydney last month I slept in my clothes (despite having PJs) because I dozed off before I could even get to use the bathroom to change.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 100

Agree with John on the QF330 comment,we were in J on a recent Singapore-Syd flight and one WC wasnt working at all so the line up to change into the proverbial  grey PJ were  a tad long

No extra QF points were offered unlike  on another trip to the Lion City when the IFE failed to load and the points were loaded automatically a week later

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 72

Last 330 flight was so bad most people changed at their seat, me included. Noice, classy. Thanks Qantas. 

05 Aug 2017

Total posts 15

This is the reason why I am now avoiding QF altogether (as QF platinum) bc this is ridiculous. Last time I flew on the a330 “domestic” from SIN to SYD with only one toilet in J ( for a $4k ticket - oh and return was on old A330 config...) some dude must have had food poisoning and the smell near the toilet was unbearable (not to mention using the loo afterwards). I wonder what person in his/her right mind could have made such a decision to put only one WC for the entire J cabin. Total joke. I hope someone for QF reads this as they lost a high revenue passenger with their stinginess

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

19 May 2015

Total posts 19

I think the other cause for the frustration in the morning arrival loo queue is how long people spend in the bathrooms.  Getting changed, brushing teeth and hair, make-up, who knows what else but it is often 15 minutes per person which holds things up.  

Then there's the awkwardness of everyone standing around in the way while the crew are trying to get the last breakfasts out and get everything sorted before landing.  It might be different if there were international arrivals lounges but that seems unlikely anytime soon.   

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Fancy another 35 Premium Economies using 2 of the 4 QF A380 Business loos.

DGP
DGP

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Jan 2012

Total posts 177

Having travelled International in Business Class on Virgin Australia (B773), Emirates (A380), Garuda (A332, A333 & B773), Etihad (A380) and Qatar (A333 & B773) over the last 6 months....by far the worst toilets were on the Etihad A380.  Not only have they gone crazy with the mood lighting that you almost need to bring your iPhone for extra light, but they are more cramped than a domestic B737 aircraft to the point that once you have your toilet paper in hand.....you need to start a contortion act to use it.  And when I changed into the PJ's.....I am sure I was mopping the floor in the toilet during the whole process.  Yes, eek...1st world problems.

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 34

I have bought a pack of disposable baby changing mats - you can get them at Big W etc - which I use to stand on when getting changed in plane toilets, to avoid that "mopping the floor" scenario! They have a waterproof backing and a soft top.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Isn't it just dreadful, I think those flight attendants should make announcements for Y to use Y facilities only. They used to do that years ago, put them in their place...

27 Sep 2011

Total posts 34

I'm fairly sure it's not just the people from Y making the mess - even in the A380 or a 747 where the cabin is completely separate and there's no way for people from Y to just wander up the front I still won't stand on the floor of the toilet, because (some) men can't aim. Having the money/points to fly J doesn't seem to change that!

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

My Poodle could do a more precise aim. I really think a mop and bucket needs to be at the ready for all classes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Jul 2015

Total posts 2

Great idea - I might get some too. I do a juggle act standing on top of my shoes so absolutely nothing except for the soles of my shoes touch the floor. I just cannot believe the number of people who head to the toilets in their socks or worse, in bare feet!!! Yew - don't they know what they may be stepping in? 

05 May 2016

Total posts 577

Queuing up gives one the chance to stretch one's legs a little. Sure we are conditioned these days to want everything instantly and the toilet ratio on QANTAS could be better, but it's still much better than the experience flying Y.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

"..still much better than the experience flying Y."

Exactly why queuing for loo in J is a <first-world problem>.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

25 Mar 2014

Total posts 209

i ll wait if in J

I wait for the normal rush to change be done whilst enjoying a drink or two

I get changed after dinner, no wait normally.

Room is adequate on most aircraft flown.

As per normal getting to the toilet in the morning and finding it in a suitable condition for use is another story.

What the hell happens in there overnight is what I want to know.

2 yr olds can make the bowl.....

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Jan 2015

Total posts 17

I was on QF144 AKL to SYD on Tuesday. Only 12 J seats FA didnt nothing about Y passengers walking through the curtain to use the single loo up front. 

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Yes, how annoying. I was one of 12 J class on a QF 737 Wellington to Melbourne, every few minutes a Y passenger kept enetring the J cabin to use our facility, and when I wanted it, i had to wait for a Y to finish and let me in.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2014

Total posts 22

It's the same on the 3 hour 737 flights MEL to BRI on which I'm a regular J  traveller.  A constant stream of Y people to use the J toilet, even queuing at the front of the J cabin to wait their turn.  Only once have I seen a CSM turn Y people away and that almost resulted in loud clapping from the rest of the J passengers.  On a recent BA flight in J from LHR to CDG (Paris) and return, the CSM didn't hesitate to send any Y PAX to the rear if they tried using the J toilet.  Qantas need to understand that J PAX pay a premium fare for a premium service which they should enforce, even if it upsets some Y PAX.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Yes, Y should be told to use their own facilities. Curtains dividing need to be more firmly velcrose closed.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

10 Jan 2012

Total posts 269

VA staff are very good at policing this. I've even seen people turned away when the J cabin is empty!

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 191

indeed there are not much difference in the size of the loos for economy-business or even first class-eg Emirates 777 both first and business class loos are the  same size as economy.Just flew on etihad business class on the 787 and the business loos are much bigger in size comparing to all the others-airlines like EK or QF should raise their game and refit those loos to compete,after all you pay 4-5 times more than an economy fare so all the facilities should reflect the standard.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2014

Total posts 22

I used to enjoy flying Qantas Business Class in the original configuration of the A380 which had four toilets but I gave Qantas away after experiencing long queus after they removed two of the toilets and added more Premium Economy. I'm sorry Qantas, I don't pay my own way for a premium section of the aircraft only to have to wait in long toilet queus, otherwise I'd pay Economy. I now fly Emirates and Qatar as they have retained a sensible ratio of around 14:1 which seems to be about the industry standard for J Class. Moreover, the Qantas Skybeds Mk2 in the A380 J Class are now passe when compared to other airlines. I've also heard complaints from friends about the reconfigured Qantas A330-200 with only one toilet for 28 PAX on international flights. That's more akin to a budget airline than a supposed premium airline. Whilst the A330 have been given the much new Business suites, Qantas has lost the plot when it comes to considering overall customer comfort.   

19 Nov 2012

Total posts 42

The 332 was configured for PER flights with 1 toilet. It wasn't planned for international sectors when the layout was finalised  but with the downturn in the resources sector the aircraft have been redeployed.

05 Aug 2017

Total posts 15

Well then QF should have reconfigured and re-adjuster for “international standard” 1 loo for entire J cabin on a 7-8h flight is a joke. Pls pay $4k for a ticket and “waste” 20min for lining up for a smelly toilet minimising your sleep

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 644

I know @ least some airlines conduct formal research/study for yrs/decades on how pax use lav in terms of frequency & duration on a given route(e.g. shorthaul vs longhaul).  The result feeds directly back to cabin config/reconfig planning.

Here is an interesting example of NH Domestic(i.e. no sector duration over 3hrs) when it planned transition fm 772 to 789(replacing 772) in terms of lav config:

772=1 lav for 21J seats(1:21 ratio), 5 lavs for 384Y seats(1:77 ratio).

789=1 lav for 18J seats(1:18 ratio), 4 lavs for 377Y seats(1:94 ratio).

While it's no surprise J cabin always hv @ least 1 exclusive lav(U can't go lower than 1 lav in J), NH's study surprisingly found out that it can increase pax to lav ratio in Y without tangible impact(e.g. longer queue) to pax.  The key findings fm the study(Via customer surveys+actual observations) re lav usage in Y on 772 over a decade indicated the lavs hv actually been under-utilized & queuing has been very rare inflight(I personally can attest to these results based on my 4 flights in Y on NH domestic trunks fm 2011 to 2014).  Most probable/often cited reasons:

A)  Sectors are relatively short for most pax to need to use lav at all.

B)  Very few Y pax onboard actually consume significant F&B(e.g. meal) inflight.

C)  Due to security screening duration becoming more unpredictable than previous decades, more pax are now accustomed to arriving @ terminal /gate much earlier than before.  Ample opportunites/time for pax to use toilets near the gate even before boarding and many Y pax actually choose to do so.

As a result, NH planned fewer lavs in Y on 789 than 772 despite similar total seat count.

Virgin Blue - Velocity Rewards

02 May 2011

Total posts 1

Recently travelling back from Amsterdam on Emirates I found that on both legs it was the airline staff taking up the business class toilets rather than anyone else.

There is only so much cleaning you can do, and a couple of times after a steward had been in there the toilet certainly wasnt clean.

\Not sure if they are using the bathrooms or freshening up in there but i was crossing my legs a bit more than once.

sgb
sgb

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

30 Nov 2015

Total posts 745

Never really given it much thought, but I wonder if on the larger aircraft is there a designated staff locked facility.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

05 Oct 2015

Total posts 43

Qantas loo reductions have been a pain in the bladder whne combined with the excessive use of the seat belt light by some pilots who turn the seat belt sign on at the first whiff of turbulence.

Whilst i know that everyone will want ot scream SAFETY at me i am a former pilot and some of my former collegues need reeducation

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Aug 2012

Total posts 126

As far as I'm aware, Emirates business class has just 4 WC facilities available (all located at the rear of the aircraft) to business class guests. While first class have 3 WC available. Experienced the long queue on this mornings flight to Sydney from Dubai this morning.

PK
PK

03 May 2012

Total posts 114

I appreciate that this is a discussion about Business and not First, but a fact not mentioned enough about the Etihad Apartments is the introduction of the "make up station" in each Apartment and the fact that they are big and private enough to get changed in means that the already extremely generous 9 to 2 bathroom ratio means that you are never waiting to use the bathroom. 

QFF

12 Apr 2013

Total posts 1446

Queue is not big problem, as least I never wait any extended time. However size of it is shocker – one have to attend yoga classes to be able to change into (and out off) those pajamas – I like to bring my own and change even if they do not provide one. Lavs id J is not much differs from economy and it is definitely something wrong with such arrangement.

30 Aug 2013

Total posts 448

Other than the mad dash when the pilot announces they have begun descent and everyone rushes to the bathroom to get changed/freshen up I dont think I've ever waited for a bathroom in a J cabin. Its one of the best things about travelling premium IMO. Most people will only use a bathroom once or twice during a, say 8 hour flight for only about 5 minutes max each time, so it is shared between sat 15 people and they're each using it for 10 minutes (and thats being generous), thats only 150 minutes occupied (so 2.5 hours of an 8 hour flight), so not only are you unlikely to wait, most of the flight the bathroom will be completely empty. It's never been a big issue.

My favourite aircraft bathroom memory is travelling TG 474 new F SYD-BKK. My best mate and I were the only pax in F. WIth 2 bathrooms for F pax we had our own bathroom each for the entire flight. Very luxurious. Certainly no waiting on that flight!

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 160

Just flew BA LHR-JFK on one of its 747's with 86 business class seats. On the main deck there are 66 seats  - and three toilets. Must be one of the worst ratios out there. 

On my return flight JFK - LHR I've made sure I selected a seat on the upper deck as its a night flight and I can imagine the lines downstairs with 66 people lining up to get changed before landing. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2014

Total posts 22

Interesting. The seat maps for the 747s on the BA website show more than three toilets in the main J cabin.  In fact, according to their seat plans, the ratios look pretty good.

bsb
bsb

21 Jul 2011

Total posts 72

Just got off a QR 340 flight from CMB. 5 pax in J. A little old lady hobbled up the J cabin, clearly she was frail, the FAs quickly shooed her back down to the Y cabin, just as she made it to the curtain.  I was so upset by this it ruined my flight experience, which up until then had been exceptional. 

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 160

@ sgb regarding crew toilets. 

Not sure for other airlines but on BA:

B747 - toilet in cockpit. Toilet in cabin crew rest area on some aircraft. 

777 - toilet in the overhead flight crew rest. 

A380 - toilet in the flight crew rest  

 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

13 Feb 2015

Total posts 2

You nailed it: a first world problem. If I am ever caught complaining about the business class toilets, just lead me through the curtain/ down the stairs and strap me in next to the kiddy row. Oh to have such a problem!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 May 2015

Total posts 8

After flying from BKK to BNE i had minimal time to get from the international terminal to domestic for my flight to cairns. With minimal time in the QC i was unable to get changed. Trying to get changed in the 738 business class lav was near impossible!

BA Gold

01 Apr 2012

Total posts 160

Rusty1 re BA lavs. Nope, the seat map must be wrong. On the 'super high J' there is a small cabin (rows 12-14) and a galley complex with three lavs. Behind this is a larger cabin that runs from doors two to three (rows 17-20) then doors three. And behind doors three another small cabin of two rows (21/22). No more toilets. just the three for 66 main deck passengers. 

I did suggest to one of the crew that they use the curtained off area by the door as a 'changing area' for the morning rush lol. 

Lufthansa - Miles & More

29 Jul 2014

Total posts 185

Jet airways has a 1:7.5 ratio. Which I always find to be a hugely good ration never normally a que and the FAs will keep a Y class free for you if all are occupied when you need one.

31 Jul 2016

Total posts 1

Also just flew on the BA 747 KWI - London with sixty six seats on the main deck.

As 'Jason' said there are only three restrooms for the sixty sixty passengers.

The two showing on seatguru just forward of row twelve are for First Class only.  And in typical BA fashion that was strictly enforced on my flight.  I was sat in row twelve and iadvertently went to use one and nearly had my head bitten off.

https://www.seatguru.com/airlines/British_Airways/British_Airways_Boeing_747-400_D.php


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