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It's Not Your Imagination, Airline Restrooms Are Getting Smaller

  • Tiny lavatories enable U.S. carriers to squeeze in more seats
  • ‘I can’t turn around in it,’ pilot tells American’s president
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It's Not Your Imagination, Airline Restrooms Are Getting Smaller

If the restroom on your next flight seems a bit snug, don’t assume you’ve picked up a few pounds. U.S. airlines increasingly are putting smaller lavatories on their planes -- and the economics of the decision means they’re probably here to stay.

As labor costs rise and fuel prices surge, airlines are taking advantage of robust travel demand to squeeze as many passengers as possible into planes. Knee-bashing reductions to legroom and elbow-crunching cuts to seat size are well-known tactics. The latest method is to retrofit old aircraft and order new ones with svelte lavatories that allow for an extra row of seats.