New Study Reveals Most Bathroom Friendly Airlines in the US

Going to the bathroom during a fight is unfortunately not the most pleasant experience for most people.

In a January 2023 poll of the general public, UponArriving found that 74% of respondents “actively avoid” going to the bathroom during flights and 70% acknowledged using the bathroom during a flight was a “stressful” experience.

Considering that as many as 30% of men and 40% of women in the US deal with with overactive bladder symptoms, these numbers are worth paying attention to.

Knowing which airlines, and more importantly which aircraft, have the best ratios of seats to lavatories can help you decrease the odds of having to wait to access the bathroom during a flight.

So to give travelers some insight, we analyzed the ratios of seats to lavatories for major US airlines, focusing on economy cabins in narrow body and regional aircraft.

Most bathroom friendly airlines in the US

The key findings

When trying to select a more bathroom friendly aircraft as an economy passenger, the biggest factor is usually whether or not the economy cabin has two or three lavatories.

JetBlue outperformed a lot of the other airlines because some of the aircraft like the Airbus A321Neo and Airbus A321 Classic actually have four lavatories for their all-economy aircraft, while all of their other narrow body aircraft have three for economy passengers.

Alaska was also a front runner as they operate several aircraft with three bathrooms for economy passengers including the Boeing 737-800 and Boeing 737-900.

Some aircraft like the 737-700 may only have one lavatory in the front and one in the back, which makes them one of the least bathroom friendly aircraft. Southwest Airlines relies heavily on this aircraft which is why they were ranked at the back.

In terms of the overall numbers, the average aircraft had a ratio of one bathroom for every 60 passengers.

Did you know? Most of the general public (65%) believes there are not enough bathrooms on planes.

The best and worst aircraft for bathrooms

The ratios don’t tell the whole story because location also matters.

The most bathroom friendly aircraft for economy passengers would typically be an aircraft with two lavatories in the back and one lavatory towards the middle or front of the economy cabin, allowing for the most convenient bathroom access.

Lavatories at the front of the economy cabin can be found on some Boeing 737MAX 9 aircraft. Some other aircraft like the Airbus A321-200 and Airbus A321neo may place a bathroom in the middle of the economy cabin, which might be the most convenient option of all.

Another important consideration when looking at these ratios is that some of the aircraft may fly on very short routes, so the need for more bathrooms is not as dire. This is the case with Delta’s alternate version of the Boeing 737-900ER, which has the worst seat-to-lavatory ratio.

With all of that said, here are the best and worst aircraft based on their ratios.

Best aircraft

AircraftAirlineEconomy seats per lavatory
Airbus A321-200 (transcon)American36
Airbus A321 Classic w/MintJetBlue48
Airbus A220-100Delta49
Boeing 737-800Alaska49

Worst aircraft

AircraftAirlineEconomy seats per lavatory
Airbus A321-200Frontier77
Boeing 737 MAX 8American78
Boeing 737-800American78
Airbus A321neoFrontier80
Boeing 737-900ER (alt)*Delta83

Interestingly, you will find the Boeing 737-800 and Airbus A321-200 on both lists.

That just goes to show the difference of having an extra bathroom in the cabin. It also shows how the same aircraft can have a very different bathroom set up since airlines utilize different versions of the same aircraft.

Using First Class lavatories

In general, airlines want passengers to use the bathroom located within the cabin they are ticketed in. However, some airlines will allow economy passengers to use the first class bathrooms on domestic flights.

This is usually the case if:

  • Aisle access to the rear (aft) bathroom is blocked by a food/drink cart
  • You’re a passenger falling within a special group (e.g., you have a mobility issue)
  • There is an emergency bathroom situation

We contacted all of the major US airlines and JetBlue was the only major US airline that confirmed economy passengers could count on using “first class” lavatories. Given the seat-to-lavatory ratio ranking they have and this customer friendly policy, JetBlue is by far the most bathroom friendly airline in the US.

Note: US airlines are much more strict about the bathroom policies when flying back into the US on an international flight. On those flights, economy passengers may be prevented from using First Class lavatories.

Tips for when you need to go

  • Refrain from drinking lots of liquids including alcohol to reduce the need to go
  • Consider going to the bathroom as soon as you enter the plane (assuming you can deal with the foot traffic)
  • Avoid congregating near the lavatory at the front of the plane
  • You can go to the bathroom when the seatbelt light is on but you have to proceed at your own risk. If your flight attendants are seated or there is turbulence, you should remain in your seat.
  • Select an aisle seat near a bathroom for quick access

Study Data: fleet and ratio numbers


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Boeing 737-80059147349
Boeing 737-90012162354
Boeing 737-900ER79162354
Boeing 737 MAX 938162354
Boeing 737-70011112256
Airbus A321neo10174358
Embraer 1757564164


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Airbus A321-200 (transcon)1772236
Embraer ERJ1457850150
Embraer 1702153153
Bombardier CRJ70014156156
Airbus A321-200201170357
Airbus A321neo68176359
Airbus A319-100133120260
Embraer 17520964164
Bombardier CRJ900*11367167
Airbus A320-20048138269
Boeing 737 MAX 842156278
Boeing 737-800303156278


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Airbus A220-1004597249
Boeing 717-2006598249
Bombardier CRJ2006050150
Boeing 757-30016210453
Boeing 737-900ER127160353
Airbus A321-200127171357
Boeing 757-200*100171357
Airbus A321neo21174358
Airbus A220-30014118259
Airbus A319-10057120260
Embraer 1701160160
Bombardier CRJ900*16362162
Embraer 175*11762162
Bombardier CRJ7001969169
Airbus A320-20061141271
Boeing 737-80077144272
Boeing 737-900ER (alt)*33165283


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Airbus A320-20012180360
Airbus A320neo82186362
Airbus A321-20021230377
Airbus A321neo4240380


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Airbus A321 Classic w/Mint34143348
A320 Classic11150350
Airbus A321 Neo18200450
Airbus A321 Classic28200450
Embraer E19050100250
A320 Restyled119162354


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Airbus A320-20064182361
Airbus A320neo69182361
Airbus 319-10029145273
Airbus A32130228376


AircraftEst. fleetEcon SeatsLavatoriesSeats per lav
Bombardier CRJ20016750150
Embraer ERJ-145XR7350150
Bombardier CRJ5506850150
Boeing 757-200*40157352
Boeing 737-900*148159353
Boeing 737 MAX 947159353
Boeing 757-30021161354
Airbus A319-10081114257
Boeing 737-70040114257
Embraer 175*19861161
Embraer 1703864164
Airbus A320-20099138269
Bombardier CRJ7001970170
Boeing 737-800*141150275
Boeing 737 MAX 831150275


In order to rank the most bathroom friendly airlines, we ranked airlines based on the ratio of economy seats to lavatories found in the economy cabin.

We determined a ratio for each type of aircraft used and then used a weighted average of the ratios based on the percent that each aircraft made up of the relevant fleet. For example, for Alaska, the Boeing 737-800 made up 20.7% of its fleet so the seat-to-bathroom ratio for the Boeing 737-800 made up 20.7% of the average for Alaska’s overall ratio.

If an airline had a designated first class cabin those seats and lavatories were excluded. However, if there was no lavatory in first class then those first class seats were included in the total since they would be accessing the same lavatory as economy. This only happened in a couple of instances.

Economy seats with extra legroom such as main cabin extra or economy plus were considered economy seats since they were located in the same cabin.

This study was designed to focus on the typical flying experience when flying within the continental US so we only focused on narrow body aircraft and smaller regional aircraft while excluding all wide bodies and aircraft used exclusively for international flights like JetBlue’s A321LR. The focus on continental US flights is why Hawaiian Airlines is not included. While some airlines do fly wide bodies on domestic routes (usually only longer routes), narrow body aircraft are used for the vast majority of domestic routes.

Also, wide body aircraft use on domestic routes can fluctuate dramatically in a short amount of time (see United) making it more difficult to get an accurate snapshot. If all wide body aircraft were considered, the rankings would likely be impacted. Regional aircraft belonging to regional airlines were counted under the major airlines they are associated with. The study did not factor in the daily frequency or daily mileage that each aircraft was used for due to the difficulty in obtaining and comparing that dynamic data.

On a couple of occasions, airlines had multiple versions of the same aircraft. If we were unable to find how many of each version were used by an airline or at least a close approximation, we averaged the seat count and lavatory count for all versions. These are indicated by an asterisk. This only happened on a few occasions and there were usually little to no discrepancies between the different aircraft versions.

Airline fleet data was taken from a variety of sources including official fleet pages from the airlines and also secondary sources. Fleet data changes very often and so the data in the study represents an approximate snapshot of a given fleet data near the end of 2022/beginning of 2023. Seat data and and lavatory data was taken primarily from official airline seat maps and SeatGuru. If data conflicted, we deferred to the official airline’s website. Where Wikipedia was relied upon for fleet information roundups, primary sources were checked for veracity.

Poll responses were based on a January 2023 poll of 348 respondents of the general public performed by Survey Monkey. Responses had a margin of error of +/- 5%.


  • Wikipedia fleet round ups (primary sources checked)

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