At the risk of offending half the population of the world, and embarrassing my mother for my bad manners, allow me to ask a question:
When finished using the lavatory on planes, should men leave the toilet seat up or down?
I know and abide by the rules around terrestrial toilets used by both sexes: leave the seat and lid down when done. It’s the right and polite thing to do.
But are rules in the air different? I’ve often thought so but when I posed this “up or down” question in conversations or on social media, the answer was a resounding “down” (many in ALL CAPS with several exclamation points) from women.
From men, the response was mostly “down,” but mixed. And when I followed up on the question verbally with many of my frequent flying counterparts, I found what I suspected. Many men leave the seat up. (“If it’s up when I get there, I leave it up when I leave, but I was afraid to answer that way on social media. Worried that my house might get rolled,” said one friend.)
So why in the world do polite men leave the seat up when finished in the airplane lav? It’s likely not that they are being inconsiderate boobs. There are reasons…
For me, it’s a signal to the next passenger using it. To men it says, “I did not urinate on the seat; nor should you. I’m also leaving it up for you so you don’t have to touch it.” To women it says, “The last person in here did not urinate on the seat. You are protected from possible nastiness.”
There’s also the flap or suction issue. I’m more likely to leave the seat up when the toilet has one of those flaps that hangs there in the breeze. Suction-style toilets are more violent, and are known to splash up when flushed– with those, it’s always lid down.
Here’s a sampling of responses from social media. Where do you fall on the spectrum? Please leave your comments below.
KD: Come on! Is this even a real question? Down! Always down! For everyone, EVERYWHERE!
JR: Down. Who wants to look in a toilet, even if you have to eventually use it?
HDT: Down and then flush- for everyone. But people are so gross. I hate to use the airplane toilets at all! Yuck
VD: If it isn’t down and the woman doesn’t note that, she falls into the john–not fun! Trust me – I have been there.
EG: So down – and thanks for asking!!!
GL: Men and women should leave the toilet as-is, there’s a chance the next person will be of the same gender. This limits the number of times that the toilet must be touched.
JD: Don’t touch it if you don’t have to.
MS: Here’s the thing with this one. Someone has to touch the toilet seat. If women leave the seat down, men have to lift it. If men leave it up women have to put it down. I’d say, do your business and leave it as you used it.
AW: If I leave it up then the ladies will have a clean toilet seat that some kid might have peed on. It doesn’t make sense to put it down so it gets splattered.
MZ: I prefer to see it up in hopes no one peed on the seat. To which KR replied: Great point everyone is overlooking!
KG: I’m a bit of an anomaly – I’m female and in college, most guys in all-male apartments naturally left their toilet seats up. If I used their toilet, I would put the seat back up afterwards. It’s courtesy, right? =)
BF: Up. Well. The top part I mean. Leave the seat part down
CB: This has always perplexed me.
So maybe there’s not an easy answer to the question. I know that I’ll be thinking about this the next time I lumber into a lav!
Please sound off below. And if you are too embarrassed to go public with your lavatory habits, you can email me.
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