Travel News

United Passengers Told to Go to the Bathroom Before 7 Hour Flight – To Avoid Diversion

a plane on a runway
Written by Charlie

Can you imagine being told you HAVE to use the bathroom before a 7 hour flight – and this to avoid a flight diversion? This is what these passengers were told!

Can you imagine being told that you have to go to the bathroom – or hold it for 7 hours on a flight across the Atlantic?! Plus, if there was a need to go mid-flight, they may need a diversion?

Passengers Told to go to the Bathroom Before 7 Hour Flight

This is what happened for a United Airlines flight (UA37) – a Boeing 757-200 – a couple of weeks ago from Edinburgh to Newark. It turns out that the trucks that were supposed to empty the half-full toilets on the plane were actually frozen so they couldn’t empty the toilets.

As a result, according to the Scotsman, an announcement was made in the terminal that said, “If anyone needs the bathroom, please us the bathroom before boarding the aircraft. This will [allow] us to get to Newark without having to divert. The lavatories are half full, so we are asking customers if they need the bathroom, to use the bathroom now before we actually board.”

Yikes! When I was younger, I used to see how many flights in a row I could go without getting up at all during the flight. The longest for me was a 10 hour flight and I had gone something like 50 flights in a row without needing to get up. But, that was a choice! I cannot imagine being told that it is not an option to use the bathrooms mid-flight!

I mean, have you seen the line for bathrooms after the meal service? Imagine all of those people being told that they couldn’t relieve themselves!

This wasn’t really on United as it was Swissport that was the ground management team in Edinburgh. United said in a statement later that “Prior to the departure of United flight 37 (Edinburgh – New York/Newark) today, frozen and inoperable equipment caused a flight delay. The flight eventually departed Edinburgh Airport at 10:57am (local time).”

That flight delay was caused because they were actually able to get the toilets emptied and functioning again before the flight departed so it all worked out well in the end. I cannot imagine the angst of many passengers at the thought of having to make a 7 hour journey without the option to use the restroom. Plus, being told anything about a possible diversion otherwise? On the route from Scotland to the US? 🙂

I kept forgetting to post about this before when I noticed it and thought I would get it done now during the holiday break time! I love flying but this was a flight I was glad I was not on!

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About the author


Charlie has been an avid traveler and runner for many years. He has run in marathons around the world for less than it would cost to travel to the next town - all as a result of collecting and using miles and points. Over the years, he has flown hundreds of thousands of miles and collected millions of miles and points.
Now he uses this experience and knowledge to help others through Running with Miles.


  • I simply hate stupod posts that sensationalize a non-event.

    Ok…there were some operational issues due to a freeze. If tans were half full on the inbound flight, ots reasonable they would fill on the outbound…but not preclude toilet use for by far the majority of tgat flight.
    Sure United, politely ask for passengers to relieve themselves to avoid toilet overuse on the flight.

    And besides…Gander, Newfoundland is an easy and fast touchdown of indeed the flight needed servicing before arrival at Newark. And as you say..the plane got serviced before take off…so indeed a non event.

    Is there nothing mote important for yiu ti write about regarding real events…

  • I was on a United flight one night from ORD-SAN several years ago and the pilot came out to explain that they only had 1 of 3 working lavs and said that customers could choose to fly knowing the risk or rebook the next day. The alternative was to cancel the flight. It was kinda funny because we (the customers) all banded together because we wanted to get to SAN and it all worked out, like a team effort. I understood that things happen and I was really glad we were able to fly. Not sure what happened in SAN and if they fixed the lava overnight but that was someone else’s problem

  • Why are you glad you were not on this flight? As you mentioned in a side note buried at the bottom of this clickbait, they WERE able to empty the toilets before departure.

    • It was not a side note – it was in the order of events. If you actually return, read my comment below for the construction of the post.
      Also, the title was based on an airline announcement.

  • Wow charlie you are such a loser …and cant face tge truth. I poszed a constructive comment here yesterday…and youve deleted it.
    The blog worlds beed to read what a baby you are to delete truthful comments you dont like.
    Talk about subduing free speech…

    • Not sure where you are located but for much for the world it is a holiday weekend. Which means that I was not on the site. But sure, go with coward since you had nothing better to do this holiday weekend than to check and see if your comment was posted…
      Also, just so you know, on a private blog there is no such thing as “free speech”. It is my site so I can boot any comment I want – and I still chose to approve yours so, you are welcome!

  • Another terrible, misleading article to garner clicks and slander another airline, before in the last paragraph, clarifying that actually nothing was wrong with this flight by United. Have you no other use of your time than posting this worthless so called journalism on the internet? You’re a jerk. Be better.

  • Airplanes have the capability to dump fuel and waste while airborne. It happens all the time. A 7 hour flight over the open ocean would have easily been able to empty those half full tanks.

  • Now that I have time, let me make something clear to some of you commenters.
    First, I always try to make my headlines be descriptive as possible with the space provided so people know a sense of what the content will be. In this case, the title was what passengers had actually been told. Not clickbait.
    Next, I had found this an interesting story when I read it and my writing as it was done was to take the reader through the same struggle passengers must have felt – the “what in the world” feeling followed by the happy resolution. At least most people had probably already gone to the bathroom before takeoff!
    I know there are diversion points for Atlantic flights but it is still not something as simple as making a diversion for an overland flight – especially in a situation where a passenger is like “um, I gotta go!”