Lavatory Traps

I was woken up a worried mum frantically shouting at the nearby lavatory door whilst en route to Melbourne, Australia from Los Angeles aboard a Virgin Australia Boeing  777.

The woman’s  four year old son was trapped in the lavatory.  He had locked the door and now could not work out how to unlatch the door.

Half asleep, I pressed the flight attendant call button. A flight attendant was there in seconds. She unlatched door and four year old was rescued.

How often does this happen?

A year ago, pilot  of Delta flight 6132, traveling from Asheville, N. C., to La Guardia New York City, decided to take a bathroom break when the plane was in a holding pattern over New York. A faulty door latch on the airplane’s lavatory,  trapped the pilot inside.

Earlier this year, there was a rumour that actor Verne Troyer (Austin Powers film star who stands at two feet, eight inches /0.81 metres ) was trapped in an aeroplane lavatory  for 20 minutes because he could not reach the door handle. He denies the reports.

There is another story that has been circulating at least since 2002 of an American woman who becomes stuck on the toilet on a SAS plane when she decides to flush while sitting on the toilet. The powerful action suction traps  her to the toilet and cabin crew have to pry her off. It never happened. The suction on an aeroplane toilet is not strong enough to hold you fast!

I read one blog post about a woman in 2009 who was stuck in the lavatory of a Delta plane for over an hour when the lock failed- and the plane was on the ground, She caused take off to be delayed by over two hours.




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  1. I think because the latch and door handle mechanisms on airplanes are different than the rest of our daily lives, people (especially infrequent fliers and children) have a hard time adapting. I know flight crew (if you get locked in) can usually lift up the metal Lavatory sign, revealing the latch which can be opened from the outside.

    However, the bigger question, imho, is why do things have to be so different on airplanes? Door handles, locks, seatbelts…it just seems like someone ought to design ergonomic devices that make sense and more closely resemble what people are used to on the ground!

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