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Ryanair's Bathroom Fee Idea Really Stinks

As you've probably heard, Dublin, Ireland-based Ryanair is considering charging passengers 1 Euro or 1 British Pound (that's anywhere between $1.33 and $1.52) to use the bathroom on short flights.

Apparently, Boeing is designing a coin-operated door handle. Ryanair is also considering whether or not to remove a few bathrooms on some of its planes to add extra seating. The goal is to encourage passengers to use the airport bathrooms before they get on the airplane.

But I have to wonder if Ryanair's management has really thought this one through. Do they know how passengers could change their behavior in ways that will be negative for the customer, the airline, the flight crew and the airports?

I've been thinking about it, and here's my rundown of what might happen if Ryanair charges passengers to use its bathrooms:

Pissed-off cleaning crews. The airport bathrooms in the Ryanair terminal will get even busier if Ryanair starts charging per bathroom visit. More bathroom visits creates more clean up for the airport cleaning crews. They won't be happy about it, either. How will Ryanair deal with it?

Bottom line losses for airport vendors. If you know you're going to be charged to use the bathroom on a 90-minute flight, you're going to limit your liquid intake beforehand. This means Ryanair passengers won't buy as many sodas and other drinks from airport vendors before they get on the plane because they don't want to have a full bladder if they're going to be charged to use the restroom. If the losses are bad enough, some vendors might ask to move to another terminal in the airport to improve their bottom lines. And who could blame them. Continental terminal, here we come!

Customers will hate the coin-operated lock. A coin-operated handle? Seriously? No one carries small change anymore. People use credit and debit cards, especially when they travel. If they carry cash, they're most likely carrying larger bills they got at the ATM on the way to the airport ($20, $40, $100, etc.). Many Ryanair customers will realize they're not carrying enough Euros or Pesos or whatever and they'll have to break a $20 bill minutes before they get on the airplane. It's a sure bet vendors won't be too happy being asked to make change for the thirtieth time in 15 minutes. Some vendors could start declining to break larger bills. Will Ryanair start making change for its customers?

More bathroom backups. If you're paying to use the restroom on an airplane you'll want to get every last drop, no pun intended. So why not hang out in the bathroom for a minute or two longer to make sure you don't have to go just a little bit more? Otherwise, you'll have to get back in line and pay another $1. Moms with little kids will want to make sure Junior is all done going potty before he gets off the toilet. And I mean all done, because the last thing she wants to do is stand in line again with a little kid who keeps saying, "Mommy, I need to use the potty!" Next time we go on vacation, we're flying Virgin Airlines.

Kids always have to go to the bathroom. Young kids always have to use the bathroom. And I mean always. Asking them to "just hold it for a little bit" doesn't work. Trust me, I've tried. Young kids like airplane bathrooms because (1) it's an excuse to get out of their seat; and (2) the bathroom sink on an airplane is fun! Parents could be digging around for loose change not once, but two, three, four times during a flight. Desperate parents could start asking fellow passengers for change or try to pry it out of The Irish Bank of Flight Attendants. Some kids could have accidents in their seats while Mom is looking for money to use the bathroom. Then no one will be happy. Next time we go to see grandma, we're flying British Airways.

The potential for equipment failure. It's a fact of life that equipment breaks. What if the bathroom coin machine breaks and there's no other bathroom to use when there's still an hour left in the flight? Will the flight attendants be trained to fix it? If not, passengers had better hope for a smooth flight while they hold their bladders.

More dirty diapers. And not just on babies, toddlers and preschoolers, but adults, too. NASA astronauts aren't the only ones who can put on a Depends for traveling, especially if it might save a few dollars. Expect more garbage cans overflowing with wet, smelly diapers of all shapes and sizes. Did I mention that the airport cleaning crews won't be very happy?

Incontinence. It's a medical condition. How will Ryanair accommodate these passengers? Could ADA-type laws apply to them? Could we see a lawsuit from an incontinent passenger who didn't have the money to use the coin machine, had an accident and is now suing for mental distress?

Deplaning becomes a mass stampede. The plane lands and everyone needs to use the restroom. They're not going to be happy if they have to stand in the aisle for ten minutes waiting to get off the aircraft. In the worst case scenario, desperate passengers could suffocate a passenger as the line crushes toward the front of the aircraft. How will Ryanair make sure this never happens?

I could go on and on. I hope Ryanair's executives are thinking this one through. While they're at it, they should just flush this policy down the drain because it stinks.

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