The Stinky Side of Flying: The Stench of An United Airlines Toilet

As a rule, I like to use an airplane bathroom early on during a flight or right after a flight attendant uses it, as it is generally observed that…

1. An airplane bathroom will generally start out clean but end up filthy (in one personal experience with no running water at all); and

2. Flight attendants will at least make an attempt at tidying up the area and perhaps spritzing it with one or two puffs of room freshener after their own use, making it a somewhat more enjoyable experience to follow them.

Recently, I was on a domestic United Airlines flight to New York.

I followed my airplane rule and was the second one in the cabin to use the washroom and much to my surprise the stench of ammonia emanating from every tunnel and crevice of this tiny cramped space hit my nostrils with the fury of a prizefighter.

Did the United crew not even bother to spray some Glade while they were preparing the aircraft for passengers? Or was this their new version of friendly skies, the ammonia-scented version?

I should have been able to walk away from this story, but it got worse. My second rule was about to be tested, as well.

My second rule about using a bathroom on board a flight is definitely go right before you are about to land.  This saves you time on the ground, so you are not stuck at the back of the line when trying to go through immigration, customs, or just the good ole taxi queue.

So begrudgingly I get up to use the bathroom again, and this time, I open the door to find a large bag of coffee beans on the counter.  It seems it was someone’s genius idea to slap these beans down on the rather nasty looking laminate counter to mask the horrible stench.

Well, it worked a little, not entirely.

But trust me I am never drinking coffee on a United Airlines flight ever again — too bad because the company is so proud of their new recyclable plastic cups.


Photo Courtesy of Jeff Marin/Shutterstock