One of the great joys of living in a modern home is pooping in comfort. We probably take it for granted until we find ourselves in a strange, sketchy bathroom. It’s then when we yearn for home like never before. Nothing beats home base.
Which is one of the things that makes traveling a challenge. At home, you don’t have to consider it; you just go when you need to. On the road, it can get dicey. Smart people have been considering this difficulty for ages, and they’ve come up with some interesting solutions.
On the train, you’re encouraged to not flush while you’re in the station. Why? Because it just goes out on the tracks. That’s not really an option with an airplane, so they have a more high-tech answer to that age-old problem.
Is there any place you want to be less than the airplane bathroom?
It’s cramped, it’s tiny, it’s uncomfortable, and did we mention small? How do people with claustrophobia even handle long-haul flights?
But you can’t say that airplane bathrooms aren’t a necessary evil. When ya gotta go, ya gotta go.
When you do manage to squeeze yourself into that airplane bathroom for that all-important number two, what happens to it?
Not only is it unpleasant to have human waste fall in great globs from the sky, it’s also dangerous.
So clearly another system had to be adopted.
Bye-bye blue swirl!
In fact, airlines started switching over to a vacuum system in the ’80s.
Water is not a good choice for airplanes. Just imagine being stuffed into that lavatory when the plane hits turbulence. You’ll be thankful for the suction when you don’t get splashed with dark blue, chemical-laced water.
When you push the button to flush the toilet, it opens a valve that sucks down the waste in the Teflon-coated bowl.
The system pulls your poop away at the speed of a race car, delivering it to a large holding tank.
These tanks don’t leak like the old system might have, and there’s no blue chemical to create ice.
But they have to be emptied before the plane can take off again. It’s a dirty job, but there’s a truck for that — named the Honey Truck, of all things — and a brave, unsung hero with a hose.
Chances are, it’s already off the plane while you’re still standing in the aisle, trying to gauge how fast you’ll have to run to make your connecting flight.