Ryanair MAX 200: Graphic by Boeing

Now draws closer the hour(s) of our incontinency as well as discontent.

Even piddling little flights lasting only 40 minutes between take off and touch down can take more than an hour when you add in taxying times, air traffic delays and a lack of immediately free gates or even hard stands.

Yet overnight Boeing and Ryanair have launched the 737 MAX 200, a version of the 737 MAX 8, except that it comes with eight more seats, which could readily bring disaster to the toilet queues in an airliner orginally designed, way back in the late 60s, with a view to carrying around 110-120 passengers.

In the reports overnight, Ryanair is at pains to repeat that there is no reduction in the number of toilets, nor will there ever be a charge for using them, a point the European low cost carrier has frequently emphasised after its CEO, Michael O’Leary, several years ago took a few ‘too clever’ headlines by suggesting that it could put coin operated locks on the doors.

This was in the same genre of O’Leary PR moments as announcing that free blow jobs would be provided in the business class cabins of a low fare trans Atlantic carrier which it later decided not to launch, and standing room cabins.

However the same number of toilets on the MAX 200, three, as the same sized current model 737-800 and 737 MAX 8 may be too much of an ask.  As the average age of passengers rise, so does the need to go to the toilet, yet in the course of the history of the 737, the passenger seat to toilet ratio has risen from 40:1 to 63:1 and now almost 66:1.

In the jargon of the low cost carrier, the aisle space in flight is retail space, with cabin attendants doing their best to sell food and drinks, which puts them in conflict with loo queues. While the MAX 200 might make sense on very short Ryanair flights, it now has a network that includes long flights across the continent and to Iceland.

In the Australian context Jetstar and Tiger with similar single aisle jets fly routes of up to almost five hours duration. The reduction of galley space for additional seating in various Airbus or Boeing single aisle models as demonstrated in the MAX 200 will undoubtedly prove irresistible to the bean counters, and a cause of increased renal stress for passengers.

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