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Thursday morning, I joined United’s very first 737 MAX 9 flight, from Houston (IAH) to Orlando (MCO). I had a comfortable Economy Plus seat with plenty of legroom, the plane was fresh and the Wi-Fi was the best I’ve ever experienced at 30,000 feet — but man, United really missed the mark when it comes to the lavs.
I’m talking specifically about the economy bathrooms — there are a total of four lavs on the MAX, including one up front for first class, one at the front of the Economy Plus section and two in the rear of the plane. The three economy lavs are shockingly bad.
So, what’s the problem? They’re certainly functional and I was able to move around during my in-flight visit, but they’re especially narrow. In order to maximize cabin space, these lavatories have a curved wall, just on the other side of the sink.
As a result, that sink is tiny. Like, almost unusable. Just as with the sinks on American’s 737 MAX 8s, despised by crews and passengers alike, United’s version is so compact that you can’t reasonably wash both hands at once. While AA’s sinks are still just as small, at least AA worked with Rockwell Collins to install an aerator solution to remedy the spraying issue on its MAX 8s. Hopefully United follows suit with this fix, as it’s very unpleasant. I did manage to fit both of my hands under the faucet, but with strong water pressure and a tiny basin, the water got everywhere — on the mirror, on the wall, on the door, on the floor, and, much to my surprise, all over my sweater.
But don’t just take my word for it — the issue becomes quite clear in the video below:
At this point, I imagine United’s committed to this lavatory design, and there isn’t an easy fix. I wouldn’t actively avoid flying on the MAX because of it — the plane is really smooth and quiet, and I really enjoyed my flight overall — but do come prepared to deal with the inevitable sink struggle, and don’t wear a shirt that you really can’t afford to get (at least a little) wet.
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