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It’s Your Duty as a Coach Passenger to Use the First-Class Bathroom

This holiday season, know your rights on crowded flights

I waited far too late to book my holiday air travel this year, which means it cost a pretty penny and now I’m stuck way back in row fifty-something of a 787, too close to the rear economy-section restrooms to justify using any others. But if you’re closer to the dividing line that separates business class from the rest of us schlubs, do yourself a favor: Use the rich-people toilet.

Go on, treat yourself. You’ve braved the “friendly” skies in order to see friends and family for a special occasion, you don’t have enough legroom and behind you is some kid playing a video game without headphones on. You deserve a little harmless bathroom subterfuge. If you’re feeling especially stealthy, you can hum the Mission: Impossible theme while you’re at it.  

However, it’s worth pointing out that using the forward restrooms on a plane as a coach passenger isn’t necessarily a violation of the rules. A former flight attendant sharing travel hacks on TikTok says that “as long as you’re not standing in the galley” or blocking the flight crew, you’re free to piss where the One Percent do. (Just kidding, they have private jets, but you get what I’m saying.) In the past, Forbes has confirmed that American Airlines, JetBlue and United “do not have any lavatory class restrictions on U.S. domestic flights,” so it’s open season.

What’s more, other carriers — including Alaska Airlines and Delta — can only strongly suggest that you stick to your designated restrooms. The former asks you to do so “when possible,” and the latter notes their “situational flexibility to support special accommodations.” I read this to mean any half-assed excuse will grant you access to a first-class commode, and that’s if a busy flight attendant has the time and inclination to hassle you for venturing beyond your domain in the first place. In that case, I’d gesture to the rear of the aircraft and allude to another customer taking too long in that restroom, or a particularly rotten stench. You could also have fun inventing reasons for the urgency of your visit — a bad egg salad sandwich at the airport? Also, those with the option should speak a foreign language to obstruct any potential arguments. 

Honestly, though, the stewards probably aren’t going to care — you’re more likely to face opposition from the snobs up front who notice you creeping on their turf. Remain calm and unintimidated in the knowledge that they can’t stop you, and are far more despised by the crew than you are. Their attempts to have you banished, as long as you maintain civility, will make them seem unreasonable or unhinged, and should they persist or escalate, their fellow elites will turn on them for causing the disruption. By that time, you’ll be safely ensconced in their shitter.

Now, is the business-class restroom much nicer than the ones in economy? Not really. It might have a couple aesthetic tweaks that make it appear high-end, but it’s still a depressing sardine can within an overcrowded sky-bus. You’re not there for luxury, however. You’re there on principle. You’re doing this because you can, because it’s your right and duty — because you have suffered every other cost and inconvenience of getting around this stupid country. Let the wealthy have pre-takeoff champagne and seats that fully recline. We’ll claim whatever they cannot keep to themselves. Don’t forget to snap a cute selfie while you’re in there. Live it up!    

At the end of the year, it’s hard not to notice the chasm separating the haves and have-nots — lavish gifts and vacations for the fortunate few, humble celebrations for most. Airplane bathrooms, of all things, must not contribute to this inequality. Bodily functions are universal, regardless of our tax bracket. Be the change when you fly for Thanksgiving, and assert your freedom of movement. Spread word through the cabin: Wherever you’re off to, there’s a bright dawn on the horizon. And when you get home, you can tell everybody how you got your wings.   

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