To Go Or Not To Go -- What You Need To Know About Private Jet Toilets

When you think about private jets, perhaps you think about President Donald Trump’s Boeing 757 with gold plated faucets in the lavatory. Larger aircraft, like his, even have showers. When NetJets operated the Boeing Business Jet, there were two showers, a private one in the master bedroom and a second in the main lavatory.

Of course, one of the misconceptions of private aviation is it is mainly Lady Gaga or Brad Pitt stepping off their Gulfstream after returning from a European holiday. It’s estimated 80% of private flying in North America are trips under two hours, many taking business owners and executives in 90 minutes trips that would take half a day flying commercial airlines, connecting through congested hubs.

The Phenom 100 jet manufactured by Embraer is displayed at the Singapore Airshow on February 13,... [+] 2014 in Singapore. It has a fully enclosed lavatory. (Photo by Yuli Seperi/Getty Images)

According to an analysis of over 110 private aircraft that are used for the charter market by Private Jet Card Comparisons, over 60% have a maximum cabin height of less than 5 feet 10 inches, meaning the average male who stands at 5 feet 9 inches is going to have to duck except when walking down the center aisle. That means, even on many Super-Mid and Midsize jets, the toilet facilities are tight. Larger jets often allow their owners to customize the interiors, but even the lavatory on a Gulfstream G450, for example, finished in gold trim and rare wood paneling is going to involve some ducking and crouching for many of us.

Some small jets, sometimes referred to as Very Light Jets, don’t have toilets. Others only have a curtained off potty. Those that do have a lavatory with a fixed wall are still tight if you are a person of size or more than average height. It’s one reason that while in many cases you can drive right up to your private jet, most regulars will make a stop in the FBO, the private jet terminal, to use the facilities there.

A fully enclosed private jet toilet means either a hardwood swinging door, hardwood bi-fold doors, hardwood sliding pocket doors that meet to create a solid door, or a hard-plastic accordion door, according to James Butler, CEO of Shaircraft Solutions, LLC., a consultant who advises buyers of fractional aircraft and jet cards. He says to can expect a toilet, a sink or wash basin, and a vanity mirror.

To Go Or Not To Go -- What You Need To Know About Private Jet Toilets

The King Air 350i used by Wheels Up has one of the better lavs on small planes, experts say.

Wheels Up

When your friends try to figure out how many people they can cram onto a jet, Butler notes many private jets have a certified lav seat. The certified lav seat is a legal way to add an additional passenger to your flight when there are no additional seats available. Although it may not be as comfortable as a regular seat, the certified lav seat should be cushioned with the same materials as all of the other seats within the cabin. In this case, the lav would have a safety belt.

Less private Butler says is a semi-enclosed toilet which is sometimes described in the literature as a partially enclosed lav. These are single seats within the plane that have a liftable seat cushion exposing an emergency chemical toilet. Located between the cockpit and passenger cabin, chemical toilets allow for emergency use, but offer much less privacy for passengers, and do not allow you to flush. There are no doors surrounding the seat, although it may include a removable privacy curtain.

Kevin O’Leary of Jet Advisors, a former sales executive for Flight Options, warns, “Basically you can’t urinate like a man in any of the light jets. You’ve got to sit like you were back in potty training (because) most cabins are less than five feet high at the apex (and) even shorter towards the side where the potty is.” Some of the separators are so flimsy, Janine K. Iannarelli, President at Par Avion Ltd. joked it would be better to provide other passengers with paper bags they could place over their heads.

Consulting Butler, O’Leary, Iannerelli, Andrew Collins, CEO of Sentient Jet, Adam Twidell, CEO of PrivateFly, Kevin Diemar, CEO of Unity Jets, Ricky Sitomer, CEO of StarJets International, and Joshua Hebert, CEO of Magellan Jets, we put together a list of those smaller planes that have limited facilities and those that are on the better side.

While airplanes can vary in offerings based on the year they were manufactured and options their owners selected, our group says, the Cessna Citation Mustang, Cessna Citation Bravo, Cessna Citation CJ2, Eclipse 500 (no toilet), Learjet 31 (front of the cabin, curtain), and Learjet 35/35a (front of the cabin, curtain) provide the least desirable toilet facilities.

While still tight, the Embraer Phenom 100 (“The Phenom 100 has a hard-side pocket door, on its lavatory, which gives it the edge over the Mustang for some passengers who are choosing between the two,” says Twidell.), HondaJet, Learjet 45, Learjet 55, Learjet 60, and Learjet 75 all get mentioned as better alternatives if having some privacy is important to you or your companions.

Among turboprops, the King Air 350i, the backbone of the Wheels Up fleet gets good reviews. “On a King Air 350i, there is more privacy as the aft toilet is positioned on the other side of the entry door, further from the other passengers and crew. The 350i offers the most privacy, with a solid door and optional vanity,” says Twidell. The Pilatus PC-12, used by Surf Air and fractional provider PlaneSense, has a forward lavatory between the cockpit and the cabin. “There are hard doors in two positions, to give privacy from the cockpit and other passengers as required,” Twidell adds.

If you are buying a jet card in the light jet category, you will want to see if there is a guarantee for a fully enclosed lav in your provider's light jet program. Sentient, says Collins, ensures a fully separate lav by simply not sourcing aircraft that don’t have them. Experts also say, air traffic delays and rerouting because of weath can extend flights, so it'ssmart to do your homework before you select an aircraft. Of course, in flying privately, it’s always better to know before you go.