Using toilets on aircraft


I would like to travel long haul to the USA struggle to use toilets on aircraft. The problem is that because the ratio of toilets is low there often is a queue of people wanting to use the facilities and I feel I’m being timed which leads to a feeling of tenseness.
I don’t want to catheterise because of the risk of infection so l’m wondering about business class where there is a better ratio, however on AA there could still be 25 or more passengers per washroom. If I was caught short on a 14 hour flight the crew might have to declare a medical emergency with, I’m sure, dire consequences!

Does anyone know of an airline flying to the west coast of the USA which has lots of toilets or toilets that are partially hidden so that other passengers might not notice me going in? If I felt I wasn’t being observed and that other passengers weren’t waiting for me, I would feel much more relaxed and probably wouldn’t have a problem.

I would very much like to be able to travel to the USA and visit family on what for me would be the holiday of a lifetime. Does anyone have any experience of overcoming this problem?


#901 by Kevin

Hi Kevin

Do read our guidance about flying on our forum: look under Living with Paruresis/Paruresis and Flying.

Two further points:
When there is a queue for a block of toilets, people cannot keep track of who went in which and when. Think about it: if there are four toilets, the person fourth in the queue is not going to be looking to go in your; people stay in for random times, so do not exit in the order they go in. It is not at all like on a train.

Secondly, you say you do not want to use a catheter because of the risk of infection. The risk of infection with disposable sterile catheters is almost nil; that is from guys who use them regularly (it is different for women). With a catheter in your pocket you are bomb-proof.

Hope that helps


#903 by andrew

Hi Kevin,
I too have this problem. For me its the feeling of being trapped 30,000 up I suppose. Long Haul I fly business class, because the WC situation is quieter and more relaxed, plus the other 100 reasons! But its eye wateringly expensive. Andrew speaks good sense, a catheter is unlikely to be needed but the fact its there helps with a feeling of an exit route if all else fails. Practice at home first though, its an acquired skill. I think the USA site has more info on Caths. Good luck!

#911 by Ricky

My worst experience was on an aircraft. I had held it in for hours and thought I would use the aircraft toilet but there was a queue. Just as I reached the front we hit turbulance and I was told to sit down. When the seatbelt light went off there was a queue again. I asked if I could jump the queue as I was first before the turbulance and a guy took exception to it. I was so tense when I finally went in, my bladder locked leaving me in agony. The experience made me determined to do something about it. I got interested in psychology, trained as a counsellor and desensitised. Aircraft toilets or airport toilets are no longer a problem for me.

#1269 by Anonymous
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