- 5:49 ET, Mar 28 2022
- Updated: 7:24 ET, Mar 28 2022
NEXT time you need to use the bathroom on a plane, you may notice that it doesn’t work like your standard toilet at home.
Here is everything you need to know about what happens when you flush the toilet during a flight.
Do planes dump poo in mid-air?
While most people may think that planes store poo on the flight until they land, others may think it is dropped mid-air.
What actually happens is that waste is sucked through a vacuum to a large holding tank on the plane and is vacuumed out upon landing by ground crew.
However, Whitfield parish councillor Geoff Paxton, who has worked at airports for 40 years, told the BBC it is “very rare” that poo can leak from planes mid-flight.
He said: ‘We used to have problems with blue ice [frozen human waste and disinfectant] on arrivals but that was because those toilets used to leak.’
Cllr Paxton added that lower pressure, such as being below 6,000ft, could lead to something coming out, however.
In the case of trains, emptying poo onto the tracks in the UK was banned in 2017.
Is it possible to get sucked down the toilet mid-flight?
Some horror stories tell of people getting sucked into the toilet while they are on a plane.
Thankfully this isn’t true – the vacuum on the plane toilet works only at the opening of the disposal pipe, and the toilets are designed to prevent this from happening. So no, you can’t.
Can I use the toilet before a flight takes off?
While a plane doesn’t have the same rules as trains when it comes to using the toilet, crew advise against using it before the plane has taken off.
Flight attendant Caroline Mercedes told Insider that toilet breaks spark delays because it slows down the boarding process.
She said: “It’s not a wise idea to get up to use the bathroom as soon as you get on the plane or we take off.
“There’s always a line of people in the back during boarding that makes the process slower.”
Another flight attendant said while it would be okay to use the toilet when you get on, you should never do it during the safety demonstration.
They said: “It’s OK to go to the restroom before takeoff. But when you see flight attendants performing a safety demonstration, you should stay seated and wait until the seatbelt sign is off.
“When passengers get up during the safety demonstration, we need to stop, wait, and start from the beginning when everyone is back to their seats.”