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."