We’ve all been in airline toilets that seem almost too small to turn around in, or even some ‘premium’ washrooms where the contortions of changing into and out of your business class PJs makes you grateful for all those yoga classes.
In first class, of course, the experience can be quite different.
Just as an airline’s first class suites are the largest, most spacious and best appointed seats in the sky, so too are bathrooms reserved for first class flyers.
Instead of a cramped closet with a toilet and hand basin, first class flyers can expect a luxurious bathroom where the wash basin and changing areas are often separated from the lavatory area.
Feted French designer Jacques Pierrejean, who made his name developing high-end yachts and interiors for private and commercial aircraft, was tasked by Singapore Airlines with reimagining its Airbus A380 first class suites.
This extended to a generously-oversized washroom nestled in the nose of the Airbus A380’s upper deck, to one side of the staircase connecting the upper and lower decks.
The toilet itself is at the far end, concealed behind a vanity bench with twin personal mirrors and a padded stool, plus a full length mirror illuminated by crisp white LEDs.
And behind that section is the washbasin, with ample space on the marble-effect bench to spread out your toiletries.
Other thoughtful touches include the stylish single-piece coat hanger across from the vanity bench, and the rich woodgrain panelling which completes this luxury lav.
German design firm Mueller/Romca created this superloo for Lufthansa’s superjumbos.
A low padded bench makes it easier for guests to change clothes, while the WC is slightly separated from the rest of the washroom by a full-height divider.
One unique feature is that a men's urinal is “discretely tucked away” behind a sliding shell. Mueller/Romca says this “improves hygiene in the overall toilet area… that the toilet area remains clean and thereby substantially improves the comfort for female passengers.”
Although Emirates has a first class lav tucked away behind the kitchen galley for its Suites passengers, most passengers looking for a bathroom visit head for one of the two signature shower suites.
It’s one reason why a trip in Emirates first class has found itself on the bucket list of many travellers: few thing beat the ‘private jet’ indulgence of taking a shower while soaring above the clouds, especially with touches like a heated flooring and fluffy towels.
There are two shower suites available to any of the A380’s 14 first class passengers to book for up to 30 minutes as a time, with five minutes of running water.
Another superlative superjumbo washroom is found on Qatar Airways’ A380s, where first class flyers can take a break from their open suites yet find the same high quality design including leather-lined benches and a wide LED-lit mirror.
One elegant touch is the ‘waterfall’ tap on the oversized washbasin, while a seperate full-length mirror helps make the space look even larger and brighter.
Gulf carrier Etihad Airways drew from the design and colour scheme of its A380 first class Apartments – including a dappled ‘facets of Abu Dhabi’ lighting effect – for the private washroom and shower.
South Korea’s Asiana Airlines is merging with Korean Air, after which the A380s of both carriers will be retired, along with their first class suites.
In common with several other airlines, Asiana’s first class bathroom cleverly hides the toilet under a padded bench and provides plenty of room to change your clothes, such as swapping those comfy inflight pyjamas for smart business wear so you’re ready for your first meeting as soon as you arrive.