There Must Be a Better Way . . . To Get Your Luggage into the Airport Bathroom Stall

The typical size of an airport bathroom stall is 3 1/2′ by 5′, of which more than half is taken up by the toilet. Most have doors that swing to the inside of the stall.

That leaves just a few square inches in which to get your body inside the stall and rotate your luggage in and close the door. Oh, and do this with your legs crossed because you didn’t want to use the toilet on the plane, so now you’re rushing in to the first available stall.

Not an easy feat, especially when your bag is more than miniature size and does not have spinner wheels.

a bathroom with a yellow trash canWhile getting into the stall with your luggage and closing the door is a challenge, it can be even tougher to do an about-face and gracefully exit the stall without your bag rubbing against the toilet (yewww!)

I witnessed a woman who gave upon the graceful part and just stood atop the toilet seat once she got the door opened. That was the only way she could figure out how to literally rise above the situation.

I wish I had my camera and was bold enough to take a photo of her balanced on the rim of the seat – this photo would be sent to every public bathroom architect on the planet.

What’s the solution?

  • Why not have the doors swing out instead? Sure, this takes up a bit more floor space and you might get hit by an out-swinging door now and then, but hey, this beats the every-potty-time struggle of wedging you and your belongings inside. (This photo shows how much excess floor space is available in this women’s bathroom at Houston’s Intercontinental airport.)
  • Maybe a half-fold door, similar to many airplanes? More door breakages involved, you say? Phooey. Many of the existing doors already have broken locks, missing coat/purse hooks and toilets that don’t flush. This will be nothing more than what already needs repair.
  • Or a solution similar to what my kids had to deal with in grammar school – remove the doors altogether. We can carry a big umbrella with us and open it up for use as a screen. Ok, bad idea.
  • Instead, how about making the stalls just a few inches wider and longer? Is that so much to ask?

For now, until we see larger bathroom stalls, I’ll continue to seek out doors that swing outwards (I was lucky to find one today — score!). Ah, the little things that make me happy.

a close-up of a locker

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  1. I was complaining about just this thing the other day and a guy thought I meant the -entrance- door to the whole restroom….clearly men don’t really have this same issue.

    FYI Most of the Ladies Stall doors at SEA-TAC do in fact open in. I suspect a female engineer.

  2. I was thinking about that same issue recently, when I was in PIT and had trouble navigating my carryon bags in and out of the tight bathroom stall. I think doors that swing out would be the easiest and most economical solution for most airport bathroom stalls with that problem. 🙂

  3. I’m a guy and I totally agree with you. The stupid argument that doors swinging outward might hit someone is one I don’t accept. Every door has to swing outward in one direction (how did you enter the restroom?, The door swing into the restroom where people could get hit from it).

    It is also annoying if the doors don’t have a hangar for bags. I often travel only with a backpack and don’t like to put it on the bathroom floor (for obvious reasons).

  4. I’m a guy and also totally agree. There are a few other toilet issues that bother me.

    -why toilets in hotel bathrooms? It doesn’t take up that much space to have separate toilets. I’m still grossed out every time. IMO, toilets do not belong in a room that essentially serves for washing yourself and brushing your teeth.

    -why the men/women separation? It is just silly.
    Why not just separate urinals/toilets.
    In Taiwan, I used the ladies toilets at the airport. The reason was that I’m asthmatic and the men’s toilets were so filled with cigarette smoke that I feared an asthma attack. The ladies that noticed this almost executed me at the spot. That’s just not a rational reaction, just silly puritanism.

  5. No kidding! I may not be in the top tier of airline travelers, as I “only” fly an average of two times per month, but this is my BIGGEST pet peeve about traveling.

    In general I love airports, but seriously, how hard would it be to install swing-out doors (as some airports, thankfully, have done) or the half-fold doors.

    BTW – best airport bathrooms in the entire US (in my humble opinion) are in Charlotte. What other airport gives you (almost) enough space AND free mouthwash and other assorted clean-up goodies?

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