Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Indians’ lack of toilet hygiene delays long-haul flights, bleeds airlines

Mumbai: Claustrophobic though it may be, once the door is shut and locked, an aircraft toilet turns temporarily into a sanctuary where a passenger can escape from the crowd and, often, lose the pretense of manners necessitated by the formality of air travel.
Unfortunately for airlines across the world, what a passenger does behind a closed toilet door can have a direct impact on their earnings. It's the one aspect that airlines have absolutely no control over, but decides whether the aircraft will depart on time for the next flight or, worse, whether it will be grounded for toilet repairs.
"If a passenger throws any object into the toilet, like a plastic bottle, soiled diapers, a bunch of tissue papers, it could damage its vacuum flush system. Then the object has to be located, it has to be removed and the flush system repaired. The next flight is delayed, the losses are multifold," said an airline source.
A senior AI cabin crew member said, "The older aircraft used the blue liquid chemical toilet flush system. When there was a blockage, we would pour hot water and then flush after some time and it would often clear the blockage. Now, newer aircraft such as the Boeing 777 and Boeing 787 have a vacuum flush which is advanced technology.
But once these toilets are blocked, there is nothing we can do." When a toilet cannot be used, a log entry is made by the cabin crew. "On average, there would be 30-60 log entries a month by cabin crew about toilets that have been rendered useless by passengers who dumped bottles, rags or other such items into the commode," he added.
It was such "toilet abuse", as airlines describe such cases, that is suspected to have triggered the headline-grabbing fracas on Saturday's Delhi-Chicago Air India+ flight. When it departed, only eight out of the 12 toilets were functioning.
En route the 17-hour flight, even the eight toilets went out of order. With no toilets to use, the over 340 passengers, including seven infants, had to stay put with bladders full till the flight landed. Whether AI maintained its toilets well remains to be seen.
It was such "toilet abuse", as airlines describe such cases, that is suspected to have triggered the headline-grabbing fracas on Saturday's Delhi-Chicago Air India+ flight. When it departed, only eight out of the 12 toilets were functioning.
En route the 17-hour flight, even the eight toilets went out of order. With no toilets to use, the over 340 passengers, including seven infants, had to stay put with bladders full till the flight landed. Whether AI maintained its toilets well remains to be seen.
15/03/17 Manju V/Times of India

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