Airlines Could Save $100 Million a Year If Everyone Went to the Bathroom Before Boarding

Airlines that hand out tablets to premium cabin customers save money compared to installing wired seat back screens. Airlines like American that don’t even do that save even more, not just on installation but also weight in the aircraft and therefore fuel. Giving pilots tablets instead of their carrying maps and charts supposedly saves major airlines over $1 million a year each in fuel.

Luke Jensen and Brian Yutko calculated that “if every passenger remembered to go to the bathroom before boarding, shedding an average of 0.2 liters of urine, the airline would save $2.66 in fuel” per flight. With about 40 million commercial flights a year that’s roughly a $100 million issue. The higher the price of oil, the bigger the savings.


American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Lavatory

Already incentives are aligned in many ways that save on fuel.

  • Checked bag fees and indeed carry on bag fees encourage passengers to bring less to the airport. That saves fuel.

  • The TSA’s War on Water discourages passengers from carrying on as much water (they have to replenish inside security, where it’s more expensive to buy bottled water and most people don’t bring refillable bottles).

  • Airlines that charge for water on board means less total water onboard and consumed.

Of course charging to use the lavatory would encourage passengers to go before they go.

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