What really happens when you flush on an airplane toilet

Written by Henrik Rothen

Aug.27 - 2023 9:06 PM CET

Foto: Shutterstock.com
Foto: Shutterstock.com
What really happens when you flush on an airplane toilet

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Ever wondered what happens when you flush the toilet on an airplane? Contrary to popular myths, the waste doesn't just get jettisoned into the sky.

Instead, it's directed to specialized sealed compartments at the back of the plane. TikTok influencer and pilot Garrett Ray explains that on a long-haul flight on a Boeing 747, the toilet can be flushed up to a thousand times.

According to Ray, over 1,211 liters (320 gallons) of waste can be generated during a long-haul flight.

Once the plane lands, airport staff carefully pump the waste from the plane using a pipe attached to a port, usually before the plane takes off again.

While modern vacuum toilets have made it a rare occurrence, there have been instances where frozen waste, known as 'blue ice,' leaks from the aircraft.

This usually happens from the service port and can result in the waste making an "early final descent" onto unsuspecting people below.

Although these incidents are rare, they do happen. One British man found himself covered in blue sewage after stepping out into his garden in Windsor.

Such events are usually the result of leaking toilets, as explained by councillor Geoff Paxton, who has worked at various airports for over 40 years.