There Is No Law Or Regulation That Says Airplanes Have To Have Working Toilets

According to the Washington Post, there is no law or regulation that says an airplane has to have a working toilet:

“We have no rules regarding restrooms,” U.S. Department of Transportation spokesman Bill Mosley said, suggesting that the Environmental Protection Agency be asked.

The EPA does set water-quality standards for aircraft, spokesman Dale Kemery said. He promised to investigate whether the agency has any further involvement. Soon he called back. “We don’t do toilets,” he said, and suggested contacting the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Not us, said FAA spokeswoman Alison Duquette, who said that if there were a rule, it would be an EPA rule.

Boy, you learn something new every day, don’t you?

When a plane takes off without a working restroom [Seattle Times]
(Photo:daquella manera)


Edit Your Comment

  1. When I was flying to Vancouver, Canada, earlier this year in June, the toilet on my United flight did not work. So the flight attendent gave people bottled water to flush the toilet after each use.


  2. dohtem says:

    Next, they should find out if there is a law against me urinating on the floor at the end aisle when the bathrooms are out of order.

  3. homerjay says:

    @dohtem: C’mon. Be realistic. Thats what the sink is for.

  4. MENDOZA!!!!! says:

    TAH DAH! Your tax dollars at “work”

    so we may have finally found a place without federal oversight.

  5. Pelagius says:

    I think US Airways just figured out another way to cut costs…

  6. Pelagius says:

    @Cassifras: Just don’t tamper with the smoke alarm.

  7. yg17 says:

    Just when you thought flying on a commercial flight couldn’t get any shittier…..

  8. gibsonic says:

    they may not be “required” to have them. but in this day and age when information travels at the speed of light, they would no longer be in business.

    another angle to consider in this is not from the consumer stand-point, but from the employee stand-point.

    Maybe the unions have some sort of requirement for access to bathrooms for flight attendants and pilots?

    Or maybe there is some sort of law concerning air quality with the EPA instead of water? The air would get VERY polluted if people started going on themselves or in other unsanitary ways.

    Then comes into question MSDS laws for work safety. Once a toilet has overflown or there are body fluids exposed in the work environemnt of the flight attendants, I am sure there is some amount of procedure and protection the flight attendants are covered by.

  9. rsm00th says:

    I think what the FAA is referring to are the Federal Air Regulations (FAR’s). They cover, among other things, what equipment must be installed and operational on an aircraft in order for it to be considered airworthy. Things like fuel gauges, landing lights, etc. I can not imagine that working bathrooms would be a part of that list.

  10. superlayne says:

    There should be some law somewhere requiring bathrooms for any place where a human can be expected to remain for 30 or more minutes. Or at least make wizzing on the person sitting beside them legal, that would be amusing.

  11. marciepooh says:

    Aren’t employers required to provide employees with working toliets and resonable breaks to use them? Doesn’t the Health Dept (admitably state law not federal) require any place that serves food has to have public restrooms? Seems like between those two airplanes have to have ’em. ::sigh:: I was just commenting to a freind how airlines used to treat the customer like they actually want repeat business.

  12. yg17 says:

    @gibsonic: “they may not be “required” to have them. but in this day and age when information travels at the speed of light, they would no longer be in business”

    I don’t think it’s about airlines removing the johns permanently or something, it’s about the once-in-a-blue-moon instances where the crapper doesn’t work and people on the plane suffer. For example, the Continental flight from Ireland a couple months ago with the overflowing toilet or the US Air flight mentioned on here earlier today. If airlines aren’t legally required to have a working toilet on the flight, when something goes wrong, they have no reason to remedy the problem ASAP, whether it’s switching planes (if still on the ground), emergency landing, refunds to customers, etc.

  13. sam says:

    not just that, but there are plenty of “small aircraft” that don’t have bathrooms. I flew on a 14-seat prop plane shuttle from Buffalo to NY once, and there was certainly nowhere to put a bathroom. Of course, this size plane can only fly relatively short distances (a flight from Buffalo to NY is about an hour, and we actually had a stopover in Binghamton), so most people would be able to sit for that amount of time.

  14. gibsonic says:


    i wasn’t really implying that they would remove them altogether. I was really trying to just say that even in the few times when they aren’t available, the public at large will still hear about it to the ease of information dispersement these days.

    great point here. the serving the food thing is a major sticking point I would imagine. Isn’t there a fine for each infraction?

  15. BrockBrockman says:

    After we pass a law requiring toilets on planes, can we pass one requiring the guy to go shit instead of baking brownies in the seat next to me?

  16. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    So are they going to be giving out complimentary diapers at the ticket counter?

    So if the plane isn’t require to have a working toilet, then passengers shouldn’t be punished for “soiling” the plane…I mean, hey, fine…don’t fix the terlet and see what happens.


  17. swalve says:

    @superlayne: How about a law requiring people pee/poo before they get on the plane?

    @Pelagius: Do you know what a fire on an aircraft is like? Not pretty.

    People and their bathrooms are really strange. My current pet-peeve is the lunatics who must use a paper towel to open the door to exit. I’d bet ANY money, the door handle to get into the room is much dirtier. And in the past, they’d just let the thing drop on the ground. Now companies are starting to place wastebaskets at the door to enable the lunacy.

  18. creativecstasy says:


    there are a tremendous number of people who don’t wash their hands after using the john – that’s why people such as myself don’t want to touch the outgoing door handle. You just washed your hands (hopefully) and immediately put yourself at risk (e. coli, etc).

    Personally, in public restrooms, I wash my hands before entering a stall, for similar reasons.

    why yes, I *am* ocd, what made you ask??

  19. hop says:

    good, take all the toilets outta the planes….by the time the flight is over it will take ’em quite awhile to clean and de scent the aircraft…