Cross your legs! 'Pay to pee' on airlines is definitely coming

Put a cork in it: Ryanair's discourteous CEO, Michael O'Leary, stood up during a press conference in Dublin Thursday and confirmed that yes, indeed, he's going to start charging passengers when they need to go to the bathroom.

The so-called "wee fee" is no longer under consideration; it's in development. O'Leary has asked Boeing to design toilets that won't work unless you swipe a credit card first. So not only will you have to pay to pee, you'll have to do it on credit.

"Eventually it's going to happen. It's just we can't do it at the moment because we don't have a mechanism for charging you," said the Irish sadist.


Last week, O'Leary set off an uproar by suggesting his airline would install "a coin slot on the toilet door," but company foot soldiers quickly followed him with a broom, cleaning up after him the way they do with the elephants at the circus. Pay lavatories are not coming in the near future, assured damage-controlling Ryanair PR flacks in a soothing voice.

Scratch that. They definitely are, only not paid by the tinkle of coins, because that would be too tricky to design. Here's how O'Leary calculates it: "Frankly, if we think 20% of our passengers in a year would use the facility, if they paid a pound per passenger, it would raise about 15 million quid and would help us to pass on £15m worth of fare savings to the traveling public."

Up until now, Ryanair has been Europe's most profitable airline, something it accomplished by pricing flights insanely low and then piling on the added fees, from massive luggage charges to a hit even for carrying on your airport purchases. But if this new fee comes on board, will passengers revolt? There are some heartless cash-heads at the Harvard Business School who admire the airline's aplomb, but I wouldn't say those guys are in sync withe the current zeitgeist.

A lot of Ryanair's flights are relatively short jaunts like Dublin to Edinburgh or Gatwick to Barcelona. In a place the size of America, though, many flights are so long that "holding it" for will take on new heights of discomfort that most Europeans won't have to endure. And it's not like you can sneak into a nearby pub to relieve yourself, as our sister site WalletPop U.K. points out as part of its own Ryanair coverage.

Federal law requires toilets in the workplace--it's a bodily necessity, like air and water. Some cities, too, have laws on the books mandating free public toilets for stores of a certain capacity, so it's uncertain how pay-to-pee flights would work out here on both the social and legal levels.

Who knows? Perhaps the introduction of a charge like this could finally get American lawmakers off their butts, so to speak, so they craft some national guidelines about where free, public facilities must be provided.

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