For a long time I’ve believed that the aviation world needed someone brave enough, with enough research, and especially with enough maturity to write about this topic without resorting to a bunch of puns and double entendres.
It’s time. I am that person. It’s my duty.
Let’s talk about pooping on airplanes.
Why is there controversy about pooping on airplanes?
I did some intense public surveying for this post and asked as many people as I could about the controversy before the manager at the shopping mall asked me to leave.
The results of those efforts? 1) I am not allowed in that mall again, and 2) most people acted repulsed when it came to the idea of exercising that bodily function on an aircraft.
Why is it so repulsive?
Well, the answer is obvious. There’s the smell factor. There’s the audible noise factor. And, let’s be honest, the few times you’ve ever done it in a moment of last-minute panic on a flight you inevitably had one of those events that sounded like a mix between someone playing the trumpet and mud hitting some curtains only to open the lavatory door to find a sweet innocent older lady waiting patiently to use the lav, the expression on her face telling you she knew what happened in there. She knew.
Many people would rather cause internal damage to themselves than do a two on an airplane. Others have no issue with the act and proudly sing the song of their people whenever nature calls.
We need to get serious, take a brave look down under, and stop holding it in. Whether you do it because you have to or because you want to, let’s talk about how to do it RIGHT. (yes, there are actually some best practices)
Tip #1: Eat Right Before Your Flight
Almost a decade ago I was in PHL on my way to Venice. I didn’t have lounge access back in those days and I was walking around the terminal before deciding to eat at an airport restaurant that served Mexican food. As I boarded the flight, I had a devastating thought.
The flight made it to Venice on time, which meant there was no international incident aboard, always a win, but what the heck was I thinking?!
Listen: you know what food makes your stomach sing and you probably know what food makes your stomach…well…sing. I’m not even talking about the food on the flight itself! Start eating better for yourself starting two days before your flight. Lay off the gassy foods. Lay off the…erm…worse than gassy foods.
Is there a specific drink that encourages people’s poopy parts to engage? Does it happen to be brown? Does it rhyme with woffee? Do you drink it often before getting on long flights?
You know better. Coffee releases gastrin, which sends signals to your insidey parts to start moving waste down that ol’ chain of events. So, before your flight, lay off the coffee. Need some caffeine but don’t want to risk the coffee because now I’ve made you a bit wary of it before flying? Try caffeinated soap. Yes, it exists, and here’s an affiliate link that will pay me a commission if you buy it.
But you probably knew this. You want the elite tips. Let’s go.
Tip #2: Location, location, location
You’re on an international flight, one of the long ones. You know it’s a 15-hour flight but decide to hold it and try to make it the whole flight without a movement.
Eventually, nature is calling too loudly for you to ignore and you have to go for it. You head towards the lavatory in front of you, since it’s the closest.
Your event happens, and it’s a whirling dervish. You come out of the lavatory with a bloody nose and your arm is in a sling. Not only do you have to face the passengers who know personally the damage you did in there, they’ll make awkward eye contact when they’re done and walking past you on the way back to their seat.
The elites know best. Go to the lavatories behind you. Not only is including the word “behind” in this tip a great double entendre but it solves the eye contact problem, since anyone who recognizes you as The Problem will have a much harder time spotting you while walking past you than towards you. If you want to supercharge this tip, go to the lavatory on the other aisle, this leaves far fewer clues about whoever it was that had the exorcism in the aft lavs.
Do you want a bonus tip? Timing matters. It makes very little sense, but just about everyone waits until the flight is about to land (at an airport featuring MANY restrooms) before their final lavatory visit. If you would not like them to feel the sullen remnants of your final lavatory visit, be honest with yourself. If you know you’ll need to go, go when you know most everyone else will be seated. That’s right: the best time to poop on an international flight is during the first meal service. People will be excited about eating the mystery meat and watching Toy Story Whatever Number They’re On Now that you’ll be able to practice your staccato in the aft lavs in peace.
You thought we were done? Nope, we’re blowing things out and going even further.
Tip #3: AET Reduction and You
Ok, let’s not be too graphic about this but illustrations will help. And let’s DEFINITELY not spend extra for Canva Pro and instead settle for the free clipart they let you use.
Let’s say there’s a, um, well, poo. Let’s call him Steve.
Let’s imagine Steve in an airplane toilet. Notice the smell graphics emanating from innocent little Steve.
Why are the smell graphics there? Why are their memories going to linger in the lavatory and cause future lavatory visitors to cry? The answer is simple: Steve had too much Air Exposure Time (AET). AET is the leading cause of smelliness in airplane lavatories since whenever I started this article [source missing].
The trick for Smell Reduction is AET Reduction. What is the best way to ensure AET Reduction?
Get ready for this: you need to make a landing runway.
I’m never going to tell anyone how I know this, but the surface of most airplane lavatory toilet bowls is not smooth. It does not encourage a quick and complete journey to the bottom of the bowl. Fortunately, there is only one step you need to learn in order to be the change you want to see in the world.
Take a long strip of toilet paper and lay it, carefully and respectfully, from the bottom of the bowl to the back edge of the bowl. Some say to double this up, and they’re right.
Why does this work? Steve lands on the toilet paper, which then takes Steve on a quick journey as it all crumples to the bottom of the bowl with almost zero Air Exposure Time. A quick flush later and you’ve completed your movement with dignity, grace, and left the world in a better place than you found it for the next lavatory customer. With pride, you exit the lavatory, ignoring the questioning looks from the other waiting patrons about why that guy looked so self-actualized walking out of the lavatory.
(Ok in all seriousness this does actually work.)
Wiping, I mean wrapping, up
This is powerful consumer research, my friends. You clicked on this blog post as someone who is probably scared of Doing The Two on a flight, but now you are equipped with elite-level tips. And you can even save the following infographic into your favorites folder to reference before your next flight.
Whether you go proudly, go confidently, or don’t go at all, you now have the tools you need to own your next flight.
…anyways sorry for the crappy post. Did I miss any tips? Leave them in the comments below!