Ladies Toilets at Airports

by Julie Finch-Scally

In the past month I have been traveling a lot by plane.  Except on long hall flights, I, like many others use the facilities prior to boarding and when we arrive at our destination.  It is not the inconvenience of having to use the facilities in flight; it is the space and the taint of uncleanliness of the toilets.

I know it is not only ladies who are affected this way because my hubby also waits until we land then uses the airport facilities once we arrive.  But there is a problem with this system.

Hubby and I were in Terminal 3 at Sydney Kingsford Smith airport last weekend traveling to Coolangatta.  I discovered there were only two sets of toilets in those terminals, and when a flight arrives there is a queue out the door for the Ladies.  Thankfully when I refused to queue in Sydney and went to find the other facilities they were not overcrowded.

This problem got me thinking.  Why, when there are such a large number of people streaming through a large airport is there a shortage of toilets?  Was it deliberate or didn’t the architect during the design think about it. 

As we were coming home the lack of toilet facilities and queuing appeared again.  This time the ladies toilets consisted of only three cubicles.  The terminal was packed with people and the queue for the Ladies was continuous. 

I know this problem has been raised before. There is rarely a queue for the Mens’ convenience, which makes one wonder if only men design airport terminals.  I am sure studies have been made of the average time taken by women when they use the facilities so why hasn’t this been considered by architects before when designing any public building.  They changed the facilities at the Sydney Opera House several years ago, now the queues for the Ladies are minimal.  Someone realised there was a problem and solved it.

I must say I am very disappointed with the facilities at airport terminals.  Surely it is time for more thought to be given to the hygiene needs of customers.  Not only to provide more cubicles for Ladies; but to also consider, when a plane arrives there will be at least 50% of the occupants all wanting to use the same facilities at the one time. 

At the moment women standing in a queue waiting for an empty cubicle at a public toilet in an airport terminal is not a great advertisement.  It sends the message that the airport doesn’t really care.  All they want is people to spend money at the food counters and shops along the esplanades.  Conveniences are only there because the hygiene laws require it, not for any other reason. 

Poor form airport owners.  As air travel increases surely it is time to amend this unhygienic system.  Either add more cubicles to the existing toilets or build another set.  Two sets of Toilets to an airport terminal are not enough.  


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