Dirty Little Secrets Inside Airplane Lavatories

We all love to travel. Every year, there is at least one good chance for us to go on-board an aircraft and it would be very useful to know some important facts about what could be lurking behind the closed doors of airplane lavatories. Airlines for America gives us a glimpse of how aircraft drinking water system work:

airplane lavatory

The aircraft used by A4A members employ closed-loop water systems with various size water tanks depending on the aircraft make, model and configuration. The water tanks are generally small due to the limited on-board demand for water in the galleys and lavatory wash basins (toilets are served by a separate system), as well as the need to limit excess weight…. Given the small size of aircraft water systems, water is replenished regularly from regulated airport public water supplies.

Potable Water Regulations for Common Carrier (P.W.R.C.C) has long been existing in Canada to ensure the safety of passengers consuming tap water. However, it wasn’t until May of this year — after 60 long years— that it was strictly implemented:

The Public Health Agency of Canada published new draft regulations, the Potable Water on Board Trains, Vessels, Aircraft and Buses Regulations, to modernize the regime governing the safety and quality of drinking water on federally regulated airplanes, trains, ships and buses.

So what made them bring back their attention to the regulation? According to a Canadian Press news article:

A 2004 study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that water on 15 per cent of 327 aircraft tested positive for total coliform, which is often used to indicate the sanitary quality of foods and water.

The Wall Street Journal added the reason why the water supplied in airplanes are contaminated:

Tanks are only cleaned a few times a month so it contains bacteria from wherever the plane has been and tanked up–possibly including various countries and US regions where tap water is not potable.

Crews who work for different airline companies were interviewed to complete a survey entitled 30 Flight Attendants, Pilots, And Airport Staff Share Their Best Kept Secrets About Flying. Number 11 is noteworthy, as it states:

Do not EVAUA 3ER drink water on an aircraft that did not come from a bottle. Don’t even TOUCH IT. The reason being the ports to purge lavatory shit and refill the aircraft with potable water are within feet from each other and sometimes serviced all at once by the same guy. Not always, but if you’re not on the ramp watching, you’ll never know.

So there you have it. Research, scientific tests, and even airline employees themselves laid down the the dirty facts that linger in airplane lavatories. This information is something that everybody must know. Passengers are only left with the hope that with the regulations being strictly imposed to airline companies, potable water would be made available from the lavatory faucets of airplanes.

This makes you thankful thinking about the bathroom plumbing at your own home and the clean safe water it provides your family, doesn’t it?

Follow Me


Professional Blogger at Big Bamboo Marketing
Channey is currently pursuing her Masters degree in Medical Laboratory Science. She enjoys writing more than anything, and is a Full-time blogger.
Follow Me

Latest posts by Channey (see all)