Why you'll queue for the business class loo on Qantas' Boeing 787

By David Flynn, March 24 2017

TALKING POINT | There are plenty of good things to be said about flying business class on Qantas' new Boeing 787, but standing in line for the lav isn't one of them.

And as much as many Australian Business Traveller readers tell us they're looking forward to travelling on the red-tailed Dreamliner, they've also voiced their dismay that there will be just one WC dedicated to the 42 business class passengers.

As we first reported during the late February 2017 launch of Qantas' Boeing 787 premium economy seats, the remaining two loos in the business class cabin will be shared with premium economy – rather than the more conventional move of having premium economy travellers share the toilets of their economy class cousins.

Here's how this maps on on the seating chart for the front end of the Qantas Boeing 787.

There's one toilet at the very front left of the aircraft which is set aside for business class...

... while two more located just ahead of the smaller secondary business class cabin shared with premium economy (the four rows of green seats).

It's true that this could be the very definition of a ‘first-world problem’.

After all, you're flying in arguably the world's most advanced and sophisticated passenger aircraft: the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

And you're sitting in the pointy end of that plane, in a superb business class seat.

But there's no denying that long queues for the loo knock some polish off that 'premium' experience when you've paid upwards $7,000 to $9,000 for your business class ticket.

And queues for the loos, there will be.

It's not possible to calculate a direct passenger-to-loo ratio when some but not all of the lavs are shared in this way, but we can take a stab at it.

There are 30 seats in the main business class cabin, with one lav at the front – so that's a maximum passenger:lav ratio of 30:1.

But the last few rows of that cabin will gravitate towards the two WCs behind them, and allowing for a modest two rows or rearward wanderers brings the ratio down to a more realistic 22:1 in the front cabin.

Adding the 12 seats in the second business class cabin with the 28 in the premium economy cabin, with two loos at their disposal, sees a ratio of 20:1 – but when you add those two rear rows of the main business class cabin, as we've allowed above, that ratio goes up to 24:1.

Those are fairly high ratios, especially when you've got the added time to change into and out of your inflight business class pyjamas.

To set this into real-world context: on Qantas Airbus A380 business class the loo count sees just four WCs shared between 64 business class passengers and, for two of those loos, the 35-seat premium economy cabin.

Using the same general split as assumed above: the front of the upper deck sees a passenger:loo ratio of around 21:1, while the section of business class which shares its lavs with premium economy has 57 seats for two lavs, for a ratio of 28.5:1.

So 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’ – things won't change much on the Boeing 787.

By comparison, Emirates' Airbus A380 has five loos for 76 business class 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.

Australian Business Traveller approached Qantas for its comment on the number of lavs per passenger – or rather, passengers per lav – on the Boeing 787, and were given this response: "We believe the Qantas 787 will deliver an exceptional level of service for all customers onboard."

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

21 Aug 2014

Total posts 513

I hope they've got a Plan B for this, especially when someone's tummy isn't helping them.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

I sure hope Qantas listen to this feedback and make these necessary changes. 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 108

QF does not listen, only directs. QF knows the 789 is not designed for ultra long haul comfort but is only in the air for economics - nothing more, and is defiantly not revolutionary and only a replacement for the aged 767 - Boeings own statement. Passengers will vote with their wallets and QF may need to listen in time but perhaps not initially till the fan fare dies down. Ultra long haul is the home of the 747 and A380 of which there are many competitive options out there. QF only looks at balance sheets, not customer needs, though they are excellent in marketing.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Nov 2011

Total posts 328

Lets be honest, this is more Ryanair than a supposed premium carrier. You cant have that many premium pax and have one lav. It's pathetic. This plane is not doing short trips either, its doing ultra long haul. The lav situation and the lack of pitch in premium economy are enough to make me avoid this plane when looking at J or W.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

28 Jul 2013

Total posts 80

Might have to get the crew to hand out gastro-stop's & anti-bacteria wipes upon boarding? Just to ensure the toilets are kept clean as EVERY passenger will touch that room in some form or other.. "All passengers are asked not to consume any heavy food 24 hrs before boarding at Perth International Airport". Perhaps a sign prior to boarding at Perth "Last Chance" with a red flashing arrow...?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Apr 2013

Total posts 388

How they fit another toilet in for business class? What kind of changes would be needed to be made?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 403

Should the front end lav loading also include the pilots? On a long flight this would add 4.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2017

Total posts 25

and crew? or do they hold on?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

08 Aug 2016

Total posts 59

so much for this plane being the future of qantas and being "revolutionary".

qantas hyped up the plane to a stupid extent even though other carriers had been flying it for years ( including Jetstar)  by the time qantas even had one delivered.

Even after all the wait all customers got was a now standard J seat with a terrible toilet to pax ratio, a some what improved premium Y seat with poor seat pitch and an economy seat that 9 across on an aircraft built for 8. oh and 32inch seat pitch inst what the industry call "very good" Alan Joyce  especially when 32 is standard for most premium carriers.

I'm my opinion japan airlines did the 787 much much better with nicer PY and Y seating.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

19 Feb 2014

Total posts 451

And you know what? The public fall for it most of the time.

14 Dec 2015

Total posts 18

Last Paragraph,

What an insulting answer from Qantas, "we believe the ........."

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jun 2015

Total posts 68

Sorry but I just don't think this is a big enough problem to worry about. Last flight I took was DFW to SYD with a full top deck and I only had to wait for the toilet once, and that was after breakfast when everyone is looking to get changed and brush their teeth. Even then I only waited 5 mins. Standing up and queuing for the toilet is a good excuse to get out of your seat for a bit and do some anti dvt stretching. And at the end of they day they could remove some seats for another toilet and it wouldnt make a noticeable difference during peak periods and the cost of the missing revenue would show up in fares. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2011

Total posts 19

Sorry, but most other airlines take a different view. Maybe thay are all wrong...

29 Oct 2016

Total posts 35

Was that on a 787? No. Compare apples with apples please.

Virgin Australia - Velocity Rewards

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 736

IMHO I think QF have made too many hardware sacrifices to make this crazy long flight possible. Only QF could pull this off, so many rusted-on QF fans will do as they are told. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

10 Jan 2017

Total posts 39

Answer: fly Qatar!!! Or the national carrier of Australia, Emirates.
Cant you just use the economy toilets also?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Feb 2017

Total posts 25

clarkysdonga are you a Y flyer... if you paid for J you would know the answer to that...

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 140

I'll take the 7:1 ratio in F on the A380 thanks! 😂

14 Feb 2012

Total posts 37

I have wait for the bathroom in F on the QF A380. The worst part is the F toilet (just like BA) is nothing to write home about and is embarrassing compared to Emirates, Thai and Singapore.

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 140

Still better than the ones in J, size wise and ratio. Reality is there is always potential to wait - if there are two toilets and three people wanting to go at the same time, then someone has to wait. If one of them got up 5 minutes earlier or later, then potentially nobody would wait. Some of it is just a coincidence.  But if you're on there for 14 hours like a large portion of the A380 flights are, what's a few minutes anyway.

24 Aug 2011

Total posts 569

I believe it is highly likely that QF will do an early reconfiguration of their 789s even to the point that some of the 789s will be delivered with an alternative configuration.

Apart from the toilet issue, they also have the problem that their W class product is not seen as revolutionary; it is not even seen as class leading. 

I predict that they will add an additional toilet probably for exclusive W class usage as well as changing W class to a 40" pitch.  This would require one row of Y class to be sacrificed.

The sleeper issue with the 787s is Y class.  Lots of airlines have gone for 9 abreast but it is universally seen as being a tight squeeze for a long-haul offering.  SQ has not announced how they will configure their 787s but if they go for 8 abreast (which is likely as they will want to differentiate their product from Scoot and not have an inferior 787 Y class product compared with their A380s, 777s and A350s), QF may be forced into changing at least some of their Y class seats to 8 abreast.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

02 Jul 2011

Total posts 1380

Don't think there are many other PE products on the market (including seat, service and food) better than QFs current one, and the new 787 is an improvement, albeit gradual.

On the 787 by lots you mean almost all (apart from JAL and early ANA deliveries) - this includes AA, BA, EY, NZ, QR, VS

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 185

what a joke-so virtually premium economy passengers have a better access to the loos than business class pax?

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Oct 2011

Total posts 326

What? You've misunderstood the figures.

Emirates Airlines - Skywards

11 Mar 2015

Total posts 185

when qatar new business class will be introduced with the private cabins qantas will loose a huge portion of business class pax

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 90

The toilet issue, is the reason I don't fly PE. For me QF using the J Loo with PE makes PE worth it if you pay around $3500. But if you use the Y toilets you may as well seat in the Y seats. I think QF have got it right, pity is they need another Loo in J, or a Loo in PE.

29 Oct 2016

Total posts 35

Can't agree with " I think QF have got it right". However as to PE on say the Qantas B747 is like Business Minus. On other airlines it is Economy Plus, and one is most likely attended to by Y cabin crew. Now when Economy (Cattle Class) is turned into Economy Minus (Sardine Class) by the bean counters it is not juist the passengers who are squished but the Y cabin crew have their workplace turned into the pits: Narrowed isles, more passengers, stressed ones at that, fewer staff etc and to avoid burn-out they have to switch off and detach. This impacts on the PE passengers they are attending, as well as the lav issues too. So B777 9->10 and B787 8->9 across downgrades are bad news all round, including PE. Qantas appear to have attempted to keep PE as Business Minus in the B787 with co-opting J's lavs but all in-all PE on this small aircraft a few rows of PE is taking down J, and to keep a significant difference between PE and Y, is forcing Y into Economy Minus 9-across cobfiguration. Joyce scrap PE on the B787 and charge a bit extra for 8 across in Y. 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 403

If you take a simpler approach to the ratios and just consider that the A380 has 4 lavs to 99 J&W passengers, while the 787 will have 3 to 70, you get 25:1 on the A380 and 23:1 on the 787.  So QF could argue the 787 arrangement is better than the proven product on the A380.  At the same time, I think they would be better of with one more lav that is W only.  CX have this on some of their 777s.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

28 Dec 2011

Total posts 90

Having used CX a number of times in PE, only once was their a operate toilet in PE. I have been told by cabin staff, that they are removing them, as they take two seats out of PE?? (their words). To my knowledge, CX is the only one that has seperate loo in PE, I will stand corrected on this. It will be interesting to see, what the Middle eastern airlines do with their PE class.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

26 May 2014

Total posts 403

The seat maps on CX show the 77H with PE lav.  This is only version with F.  Suggests that if they are taking them out they haven't started yet on that version.  I don't recall the 777 version without F having a PE lav on the few occasions I have travelled in that cabin.

Qantas

19 Apr 2012

Total posts 412

Greg and it is worth noting that PE on the A380 uses the business class loos at the back of the business class section. No queuing problems except coming into land when getting out of the Jim-jams is an issue.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Oct 2016

Total posts 40

I love their very meaningful reply!
Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 396

Qantas has canabilised lavs on A380, A330 and now 787...I have asked the question over and over and still see no real reason which justifies Qantas doing this in comparison to other carrier premium classes. If QF cant make the economics work on that 787 find another aircraft type?. It's about the passenger who is paying premium $ Alan, not your accountants. I also dislike profoundly that your staff get upgraded atthe expense of senior tier pax who have shown loyalty ++.  That they get free travel is fine and a great perk but not when a pilot with his wife and 2 kids get Business Class when I'm waiting for an upgrade using my points.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Nov 2013

Total posts 457

Joe, both former and current Qantas staff I've spoken to happily share stories of being bumped from F and J when high tier pax are requesting upgrades...The travel they get is heavily discounted, not free - its an industry norm.  
Joe
Joe

03 May 2013

Total posts 396

Sorry Mark, they are also entitled to free travel after a certain period of service. Its occurred to me trying to get an F upgrade too. Staff get priority.

11 Jul 2014

Total posts 13

They only receive one free flight after 10 years service and every 5 years after that and its J class only not F.Since frequent flyers have been able to nominate for the upgrade staff are only upgraded to business subject to loadings.Staff do not receive priority.
obi
obi

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

17 Mar 2017

Total posts 30

Or even a 12:1 seat/lav ratio on Qatar A380 business class sounds like luxury compared to QF's PR spin of '....an exceptional level of service." Yeah right QF, pull the other one.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

11 Jan 2011

Total posts 19

The situation is actually even worse than it looks: don't forget that the pilots and most of the FA's also use the J toilets! I'm afraid that Qantas have simply lost the plot lately; this follows on from their use of the A330-200 planes, whcih are clearly configured for domestic use, on international routes.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

18 Oct 2012

Total posts 122

The norm is to block off a loo for crew as to look like its occupied when its actually not .. dont ask me how i now that :) 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

06 Jul 2014

Total posts 22

Qantas proudly claim they invented Business Class. Now they seem intent on destroying their previously high reputation of excellent service and comfort after reducing the lavs in J on the A380 and using the A320 on international with one J lav. Surely they must know this is a bad idea for the 787, or does the almighty $ rule Qantas' management rather than passenger comfort and opinions?

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 140

Today's premium economy is basically what the "business class" was 20+ years ago. Business has even overtaken what First was back then. So in my mind they didn't really invent business class, they really invented what is today's product called PE!

01 Dec 2012

Total posts 6

As a frequent international and transcontinental flyer, the toilet downgrade in QF A380 and A330-200 business class is one of the few things that really irritate me - and regularly inconvenience other passengers, judging by comments I hear from them and crew. 

Note that the business class toilet ratio on the 10 mostly-international A330-300s is a Qantas-leading 14:1 (not counting 737s @ 12:1), while on the two remaining unrefurbished international A330-200s, it's 18:1. For the rest of the A330 fleet it's 28:1! 

Galley gossip is that with increased international flying by -200s, Qantas is modifying some of its planes to return a second loo to business class cabins and provide an adequate tech crew rest facility. The driver is more safety compliance than passenger comfort, I was told.


Hey Qantas, apart from reduced cabin altitude, higher humidity and marginally lower cabin noise, what 'exceptional level of service' will business class passengers receive on long-haul 787s over much shorter regional flights in A330s?

Maybe Qantas will offer Qpots, Qantas' own chamber pot (trademark pending) at each business class seats? 

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

24 Jul 2015

Total posts 7

Why couldn't they configure the plane so the toilets were between the premium economy cabin and business? Or will they start allowing business passengers to walk up through first as well on relevant flights...? I personally don't have an issue sharing as I don't often visit the toilet while on a plane, I do however have an issue with people traipsing through the cabin class when I've paid a certain price for a ticket!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

15 Mar 2016

Total posts 169

I'm less bothered by the ratio than I am by the PE access through the J cabin - increased foot traffic is not what you want on a long haul flight when sleep is what you're paying for. That rear J cabin is highly unappealing as a result!
AJW
AJW

16 Nov 2011

Total posts 514

Well said. The toilet ratio is fine and I don't think sharing with PE is going to bring the tone of the place down that much. 

But yes the traffic different story.

23 Feb 2015

Total posts 258

Jetstar 787 "business" has a 15-1 ratio :)

15 Feb 2013

Total posts 140

"Business"........exactly! ;)

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

29 Jul 2013

Total posts 209

This is one of the main reasons I hate QF's A380 Business Class, the upper deck on the B747 wins hands down with a much more agreeable ratio. Additionally, I'm not at all enthused about PE pax adding to the foot traffic in the Business cabin. These factors are taking the shine off my initial excitement about the B787 joining the QF fleet... 

British Airways - Executive Club

25 Mar 2017

Total posts 3

Ummm, why not move those shared toilets and storage to between J and W and move the J seats in zone 2 forward into the space where the toilets were? Don't even have to mess with W bulkheads and J legroom isn't affected.

One of those toilets can then be dedicated to J and the other to W by using curtains. Then the W pax don't invade the J cabin, J has another dedicated toilet, and W has a dedicated toilet as well as the ones in Y.

The LOPA fits (as long as the toilets can be plumbed)...
2A
2A

23 Feb 2017

Total posts 14

As someone who has been sliced and diced after a spot of cancer, when I need to go, I need to go. This is stressful at the best of times. I'm sure I'm not the only one with this issue. Qantas, I normally do six returns Europe - Aus p.a., mainly in First and am always Platinum or P1.

18 Mar 2016

Total posts 3

So for a long time now QF seems to think that joining a toilet queue is part of the experience of flying with the red kangaroo. I would also suggest that the crew never use the economy toilets. You will always see them using the business toilets!

16 Feb 2017

Total posts 13

It's tragic how Qantas have managed to turn what we'd hoped for so long would be our aircraft of choice to instead be the aircraft to avoid. In making my bookings I nowadays apply 'avoid 9 abreast 787 and 10 abreast 777' as my primary filter when choosing flights. And so sadly - in the decade ahead - the QF A380 to LAX may be the only QF flight I choose. Everywhere else - will be on A330, A350 or A380 services that will be available to almost everywhere in the world from Melbourne. Seat width not seat pitch you fools ! 

23 Oct 2014

Total posts 108

Terrible choices 

Business 1 toilet up front.

PE jammed in like sardines 

Econ 9 abreast cabin, shocking 

SQ or EY is the answer 

29 Jan 2012

Total posts 108

The facts - the 789 is simply a replacement for the 763, nothing revolutionary there. Toilet to passenger ratio - simply profits, nothing more. Ultra long haul on a 789 - not a contender - that's why we have the 747 and A380 with space to move, not a domestic product with long haul capability. The 789 is not designed for ultra long haul, only for economics. The passengers will vote with QF having no choice but to eventually listen.

29 Oct 2016

Total posts 35

Joyce, sorry but best way from SYD to LHR IMHO is SQ232 for an overnight sleep in a real bed in Singapore then SQ318 for dinner then bed in London, dialed in to the local time next morning. No worries about being squished into a 17.3" 9-across B787 economy seat or being offloaded onto an EK 17" 10-across B777 in Dubai and arriving jet lagged for days, and needing to see a chiropractor or a heart specialist for the DVT..

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

04 Jan 2014

Total posts 4

Does everyone want a personal toilet with thier name on it?

If you want to be technical the 787 has a better ratio than A380 and the longest wait I've had on SYD-DFW/ LAX and vice versa is up to 5 mins like one other user commented.

I sometimes even take the stroll down to Economy for the extra steps and stretching - at the end of the day a toilet is a toilet no matter whose bum has been on it


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