Pilots Locking Lavatory Door In Polaris

Old Mar 3, 2024, 1:50 pm
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I remember a flight back in 2012 where because the plane had flown 3 times with the orange light not working for the lavatory the plane could not depart. I remember asking why they did not just move the part from one of the working lights. We were waiting for the part for over two hours and they ultimately moved one of the orange lights from one of the back toilets.

I certainly understand the orange light is to help a passanger thar needs assistance in the lavatory and why it is okay to fly with the light bot working for 3 flights but not 4 was beyond confusing to me. To be clear the lavatory worked - it was the call button that had malfunctioned. We were at ORD and I was surprised that they were needing to fly the part in from somewhere else
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 2:53 pm
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Originally Posted by 1P
Before you start pontificating about other passengers, get some experience of a kidney condition. Bladder control is often extremely difficult, and pressing needs occur with very little warning. There are far more people with this issue than you may think.

But in any case, as others have said, anyone who is hydrating regularly is going to need to go regularly, probably with some urgency.
Not sure though how this impacts the subject matter. Such problems (related to health related urgency of urination) exist regardless of number of lavatories in operation and by definition are more common in Y where passengers will typically still have a lav ratio worse than J even with inoperable lavatory. The issue of inadequate lavatory numbers is real but different problem but isnt really the subject of this thread.

The crux here that I see is that passengers have a right to expect lavatories to be operational - and that right exists independent of our individual needs. Indeed the person with bladder problems is often more equipped to avert and manage these difficulties than the average person may be.
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 3:03 pm
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Originally Posted by Aussienarelle
I certainly understand the orange light is to help a passanger thar needs assistance in the lavatory and why it is okay to fly with the light bot working for 3 flights but not 4 was beyond confusing to me.
It's really simple. Because the MEL only allowed three flights.

Each MEL item has a designated time limit so that an airline can't defer a discrepancy indefinitely. It is listed in the "1. Repair Category" column as an "A", "B", "C", or "D". You can read more about Repair Categories on page 18 of this FAA document.

https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/fi...Coord_Copy.pdf

A 3-flight MEL would be Category "A" with the three flight limit specified in the MEL item description.

I don't know the details of the procedures which are used to assign Repair Categories to each item. They are worked out between the FAA and the Manufacturer during development of the MMEL.
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 3:38 pm
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Originally Posted by LarryJ
Pages 194 & 195 of this pdf are examples of when the MEL allows use by crew only. This is from a publicly available copy of the 737 Master MEL as that is the airplane with which I'm most familiar at the moment. There will be similar, if not identical, wording in the MELs from other airplanes.

https://www.faa.gov/sites/faa.gov/fi...v_62_Draft.pdf

You'll see that the affected lavatory must be placarded as inoperative so, barring it coming off or being inappropriately removed, you should see that in those cases.

I've never flown the 767-400, or any widebody for UAL, so I don't know how their procedures may be different from ours. In a configuration, such as what has been described in the thread, I wouldn't be surprised to find the door being locked in-between several pilots using the lav in succession, just as our front lav is blocked on the narrow-body when we take a break. I do not know why it would be locked for longer than that when it isn't required by an MEL.

For an airplane to be dispatched with inoperative lavatory(ies), approval must be received from Network Operational Control who takes into consideration the length of flight, number of passengers, etc. The Captain can also refuse to operate such an airplane if he thinks the inoperative equipment will affect the safety of the airplanes and passengers.
Fair enough - but as mentioned, an inop lavatory is placarded as such, so that is really a different situation than described. If the lavatory is placarded inop, Iím certainly not going to just use it and risk creating a mess, but I might ask if Iím having an emergency and see it used by crew.

Having said that, thatís not really what the OP claimed - blocking the lavatory ďfor securityĒ is not in the MEL, FAA regulations, or unless you have content to the contrary, in the United procedures manual. Itís a case of selective choice by a crew member who almost certainly wanted to reserve a private restroom for themselves to the detriment of paying customers.

Unfortunately given the often hostile relationship between employees and customers, we really have no other option but to assume unprofessional conduct by the pilot of that flight.
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 4:00 pm
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Originally Posted by bocastephen
.... Unfortunately given the often hostile relationship between employees and customers, we really have no other option but to assume unprofessional conduct by the pilot of that flight.
Personally I see this as more as a half full, half empty situation. One can start with an assumption crews are hostile to passenger and upon see this this activity, it will re-enforce that opinion. Or one can assume most employees are not hostile (IME), and this situation become potential misunderstood or the rare acts of a rogue employee.

I don't know the answer. but human nature will lead to two people to see the same situation and draw very different conclusions. Hence my statement earlier about optics, without a clearer clarification of those situations passenger will reach different conclusions. And it reality it is unlikely these are 100% valid cases or 100% fake cases. But as a bladder challenged individual (approaching my 2 MM flight) I fortunately have rarely come across out of service lavs, hope my charm continues.
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 5:52 pm
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Ani90 - are you implying that a cabin specific Lav to Pass ratio should be a constant that should be disclosed on each flight and if that expectation, as published at the time of ticketing or check-in, should result in compensation? Or is this sort of the same concept as napkins without holes in them or the variable availability of Old Fashions? Should such data - and the availability of Lav's be publicly reported to assist in decision-making and standards exist based upon best practices?

-m
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 6:50 pm
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Originally Posted by mfirst
Ani90 - are you implying that a cabin specific Lav to Pass ratio should be a constant that should be disclosed on each flight and if that expectation, as published at the time of ticketing or check-in, should result in compensation?

-m
I believe that if it is known ahead of time that a lavatory is non-functional or will be blocked off by the crew then passengers should be told before boarding and given a choice of switching to another flight, regardless of cabin (as a locked out lav can affect whole plane, directly or indirectly).

As regards compensation, a bit harder in Y but for J I would think that if one pays thousands of dollars for Polaris , it should be grounds for compensation if a lav is locked through the flight, as part of what one pays for, and expects, in J is a higher lav to pax ratio.
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 8:10 pm
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ani90 - I can understand the mindset of people changing their flight schedule because they dont want to fly on a MAX, but how many people do you think would change their travel plans at the last minute based upon a LAV-1 announcement? Where does this logic stop? I recall similar discussions about compensation policies - and in the end, it is all about the Conditions of Carriage?

-m
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 9:57 pm
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Originally Posted by halls120 (Post # 63)
[ I]f there are no lavatories available except for the one being kept closed for the benefit of the pilots[,] and the passenger in distress[ ] canít use self-help to open the lav, he or she has no alternative but to soil themselves, correct?
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA (Post # 80)
[ A]s a bladder challenged individual (approaching my 2 MM flight) I fortunately have rarely come across out of service lavs, hope my charm continues.
Keep in mind that an air sickness bag can serve as a portable latrine in an ultra-emergency. However, expect the possibility that a flight attendant (FA) will give the passenger a hard time, to say the least, upon squatting down in the galley area or aisle near the lavatory.

Originally Posted by mfirst (Post # 83)
I can understand the mindset of people changing their flight schedule because they dont want to fly on a MAX, but how many people do you think would change their travel plans at the last minute based upon a LAV-1 announcement?
For someone with benign prostatic hyperplasia, which causes frequent urination and urinary urgency, this could be a very compelling concern with respect to aircraft selection and unilateral changes by the airline. Perhaps even more so with certain digestive system conditions, which you, as a physician, could probably list for us.
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Last edited by SPN Lifer; Mar 3, 2024 at 10:03 pm
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Old Mar 3, 2024, 10:21 pm
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Originally Posted by ani90
But if the airline crew does take such action then does that give a passenger a right to take action in their own hands and open a lavatory that was locked off by crew and dare the crew to divert the plane? .
Absolutely not. But if the practice of letting pilots close a perfectly fine lav for their own use on long haul flights continues, or even spreads, someone is bound to lose control and try it. It's either that, or soil themselves.

Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Or one can assume most employees are not hostile (IME), and this situation become potential misunderstood or the rare acts of a rogue employee.
This is the assumption I'm using. One of the reasons I've flown UA more than any other airline is how well I've been treated over the years. I'm just noting the reality that given the industry's penchant for squeezing in more seats and reducing the number of lavs - something UA did a few years ago - closing off a working lav is going increase the chance of a confrontation over a locked lav. It's not right, but it's going to happen.
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Old Mar 4, 2024, 7:03 am
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Originally Posted by SPN Lifer
Keep in mind that an air sickness bag can serve as a portable latrine in an ultra-emergency. However, expect the possibility that a flight attendant (FA) will give the passenger a hard time, to say the least, upon squatting down in the galley area or aisle near the lavatory.

For someone with benign prostatic hyperplasia, which causes frequent urination and urinary urgency, this could be a very compelling concern with respect to aircraft selection and unilateral changes by the airline. Perhaps even more so with certain digestive system conditions, which you, as a physician, could probably list for us.
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Old Mar 4, 2024, 9:26 am
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Originally Posted by WineCountryUA
Use of a non-compliant lav is allowed by crew in some situations, such as non-working smoke alarm or other conditions. That's what make this a difficult issue to have certainty.
This is also why the pilot/FAs have to be vague on why the lavatory is locked.

If the FA announced one lavatory is out of service due to a non-working smoke alarm, what's the over/under of someone rushing in there to light up/vape? I would put it at 5 minutes.
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Old Mar 4, 2024, 10:18 am
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this could have been all avoided had UA just put in a lav at the front of J in the retrofit

Not basically have 2 lavs in the O cabin and then locking one, expecting 58 premium pax to share a single lav
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Old Mar 4, 2024, 11:19 am
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Originally Posted by bocastephen
Fair enough - but as mentioned, an inop lavatory is placarded as such, so that is really a different situation than described. If the lavatory is placarded inop, Iím certainly not going to just use it and risk creating a mess, but I might ask if Iím having an emergency and see it used by crew.

Having said that, thatís not really what the OP claimed - blocking the lavatory ďfor securityĒ is not in the MEL, FAA regulations, or unless you have content to the contrary, in the United procedures manual. Itís a case of selective choice by a crew member who almost certainly wanted to reserve a private restroom for themselves to the detriment of paying customers.

Unfortunately given the often hostile relationship between employees and customers, we really have no other option but to assume unprofessional conduct by the pilot of that flight.
The "given" assumption is not consistent with my experience of United employees as a customer of United. It is not clear who "we" is, but I definitely can think of a variety of other reasonable options than assuming unprofessional conduct.
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Old Mar 4, 2024, 11:28 am
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From the comments in the OP's blog by pilots, it seems to be common practice during pilot rotation (especially on the 764 given the remote lav location) is for a the first pilot to lock the lav, so the 2nd pilot has expedited access, and the continues for other pilots until the rotation is completed. It was stated this should be no more than 15-20 minutes. So this is a third mode, temporary blocked periods. I report here to add to the discussion and not to justify or condemn.

The original report was the observed closure was long and the reason given was not for rotation. But I am struggling to understand if this was a rogue situation or ordinary practice as my experience with 764s is very minimal.
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