American Airlines CEO Doug Parker revealed he’s never actually flown on the company’s new Boeing 737 MAX planes, which feature more seats and smaller bathrooms.
Back in May, the airline announced plans to reduce the pitch, the space between seats, from 30 inches to 29 in the new models in order to squeeze in 10 extra seats — fitting 170 seats compared to the typical 160 in the older airplane model.
Shortly after the announcement, American scrapped the plan due to concerns from customers and team members. Instead, they chose to remove a row of Main Cabin Extra seats, which have a pitch ranging from 35–37 inches, according to SeatGuru, and replaced them with standard coach seating, effectively giving them 172 seats.
While this news seemed to appease customers at the time, not everyone was pleased with the Boeing’s new layout. At the end of November, View from the Wing’s Gery Leff flew on the plane’s inaugural flight and found the experience less than desirable. He noted the First Class seats lost pitch and economy seats recline less than other planes.
He also claimed the biggest problem are the “tiny lavatories.” In order to make room for more seats, the Boeing 737 MAX has more narrow lavatories with smaller sinks. Leff notes they’re so small, people were getting splashed with water.
Concern over the bathroom size is shared by American crew members, as well. In a recent “Crew News” meeting, flight attendants expressed their concerns to Parker. “The doors open in the lavs and nobody can get in or out. I don’t know if you’ve been on it,” said a flight attendant. Parker then admitted that he has never actually been on the plane, but inquired for more information.
“In the aft of the aircraft the two bathroom doors open up and they lock into each other, so now you got people coming out of the bathroom into the galley and then we have to shut the doors, let them out, and let the next two people to use the restroom… and the sink you get soaking wet because it’s so small you can’t get your hands in there, so it really has some design flaws,” said the flight attendant.
"The MAXes operated by American and other airlines use a standard lavatory offered by Boeing for that aircraft," an airline spokesman told Inc.
"As with any new aircraft, we are making some adjustments to improve the experience for customers. For instance, we've already solved the sink splashing issue by installing aerators. We're always looking for ways to improve the travel experience for customers and team members."