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How to fly for 17 hours without going to the toilet


"I never go to the toilet on flights, long haul or short haul."

When the Points Finder team first heard about a passenger who flew for 17 hours without ever leaving his seat, the reaction was "Oh my god, how did he do that?" There was a widespread outbreak of what might best be described as "toilet panic".

Except from me. As far as I'm concerned, that's business as usual. I never go to the toilet on flights, long haul or short haul.

Actually, let me refine that statement a little. I never go to the toilet on flights if I'm in economy class, and I'm in economy class most of the time.

This isn't because I'm in some long-running global Iron Bladder competition. It's due to a combination of two factors: insane levels of shyness plus a highly developed ability to sleep on planes.

Because I can easily sleep on planes, I prefer to sit next to the window. If I'm in an aisle seat (or in the dreaded middle seat), I'm going to get interrupted when other passengers, who are normal people, decide they need to take a leak.

Then the shyness kicks in. I don't want to have to ask the stranger sitting next to me to move, so I can go to the bathroom. So I just don't. Feel free to judge me.

I haven't yet done the 17-hour Qantas flight from London to Perth, but it's on my (long) bucket list. However, I have regularly taken the Sydney to Dallas service, which runs to 15 hours and 20 minutes, and I've not left my seat the entire time. I don't think another couple of hours would do me in.

On the rare occasions when I'm in business class (or first class, woo-hoo!), I don't worry about this because I can get in and out of my seat as much as I please. So I'll take full advantage of the wine refills.

That's what I find weird about the tale currently doing the rounds: the passenger, who was part of ongoing research by Qantas to assess how people are coping with the super-long flight, was in business class. There were no barriers to getting up. He just chose not to. Hopefully he took advantage of the anti-jet-lag menu.

I'm not saying this is an approach that everyone should emulate. I'm sure doctors would say it's a bad idea. By all means, keep strolling around the plane and using the toilet if that's your thing. But if you want to give it a try for some reason, follow these simple rules:

  • Make sure you go to the toilet right before boarding the plane. Obvious, but essential.
  • Don't drink too much in the run-up to the flight. I'll have one glass of wine in the lounge, but no more.
  • Planes are dehydrating environments, so it's OK to have a drink with dinner, but don't have a coffee afterwards.

Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more. It appears regularly on

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