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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Blog Round-Up/Ode to Airport Commodes

For those of you new to this blog, note that it contains a mix of current travel news and deals (under the headings In the News, News Updates, Airlines, Destinations, or Hotels), travel tips (under Travel Tips), clips of my television appearances and articles for print (In the Media), and various humor columns (Humor). Among the latter are postings by my alter-ego, Jane Air. Jane has been writing columns for the Women on Their Way website for the past two years. Below you will find one of Jane's favorite pieces.

Sadly, however, Jane has been a victim of corporate cost-cutting. Although her copious archive will remain on the above-mentioned website, newer and snarkier columns will appear from time to time right here. To wit, read about Jane's visit with Prince Philip at Buckingham Palace (June 18 post).

If there are topics about which you would like Jane to comment, please offer up your suggestions. Meantime, Jane and I hope the following leaves you flush with delight.

Jane's Ode to the Airport Commode

A recent round of traveling through some of the country's busiest airports has left Jane pondering. Why oh why, asks Jane, is it so difficult to build a better mousetrap when it comes to bathroom stalls? For in many an airport loo, one truly does feel caught in a mousetrap, squeezed between one's carry-on bags, the toilet, and the door. It's frequently difficult to exit the stall without backing up and nearly falling back into the porcelain throne. Charmin'.

Yet, as several airports demonstrate, the perfect bathroom stall is not an impossible dream. To wit, there's Baltimore-Washington International Airport, where the stalls are big enough to fit two carry-on bags and two adults (not that Jane is suggesting entering a stall with another adult...particularly if you are a senator). Spacious stalls can also be found at Houston's Hobby Airport. Meanwhile, at Kansas City International, the most logical design aspect Jane has observed (leave it to Midwesterners to come up with practical and easy solutions): A door that swings out, not in. Think about it--no matter how small the stall, squeezing in is much simpler when an incoming door is not hitting you in the knee.

Then there's the issue of the toilet seat proper. Is anyone else out there driven nuts by the rotating Saran Wrap seats at O'Hare? Jane wonders whether it's just one piece of plastic wrap that keeps going round and round. After all, has anyone really seen the inner workings of the rotating Saran Wrap gizmo? Jane is curious as to how the little elves sitting inside the pipes manage to unwrap the old stuff and throw on new wrap in a matter of seconds. It's obviously a more challenging position than baking cookies for Keebler.

But Jane digresses. Hooks, my friends, hooks. Why is it so difficult to install more than one hook in a stall? How about three? That's one for the purse, one for the computer case, and one for the coat. Even two would suffice. And remember design engineers, it's called a hook, not a peg. Imagine if Captain Hook had a hook for a leg and a peg, not for his leg, but for his hand. It just wouldn't work. Nor do those little stumps on the back of the door that pose for hooks at Hartsfield-Jackson Airport in Atlanta. However, said pegs are perfect if you want your bag to fall, kerplunk, from door to floor.

Jane welcomes your thoughts on how to improve airport bathroom stalls. But in the meantime, let Jane close with an on-board toilette tip. If you are flying an airline with only one class of service, like Southwest, go to the front of the plane. Jane has observed that the lavatory near the cockpit tends to be the least used. Jane believes the reasons are threefold. People who travel coach are conditioned to go to the back of the plane; people are not allowed to line up in the front of the plane for security reasons; and many are not aware of the front-of-the-plane W.C. Upon inspection, Jane has noticed that the forward lav tends to be cleaner than its back-of-the-cabin cousins. Part of this is due to lesser use, but Jane also believes that the flight attendants actually work to keep the facility clean for the use of the pilot and co-pilot. Of course, Jane isn't privy to any inside information....but the proof is in the plumbing.

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