Ataxia UK
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Waiting in line for toilets on long flights

I have a question is about the difficulty of waiting in line at the toilet on long flights. I often make long flights, mostly to Israel (approximately 5 hours) and Australia (approximately 24 hours) and find waiting in line at the toilets very difficult.

I always take my own manual wheelchair which goes into the hold. An ambi-lift gets me into the plane and my crutches get stowed away in the overhead locker, so in the plane I have to hold on to other seats to walk to the toilet. Walking there is not the hardest but waiting is. I know they have narrow wheelchairs for in the isle but that seems to me a lot of trouble.

Soon I have to fly to Brisbane and my Ataxia has deteriorated so I dread this flight.

Does anybody know about a way to avoid this waiting without one of those isle wheelchairs? Maybe somewhere to sit?

14 Replies

Hi klazien, could you possibly talk to the airline about your concerns, they should be able to help. Possibly consider wearing "undies" that can cope with you having an accident. Please don't be embarrassed :)


Thank you, I haven’t asked the airline till now because, when ordering a ticket, one has to fill out either help with getting into the plane and help inside the plane (which means that isle wheelchair that I don’t want) or help getting into the plane and no help inside the plane.

Maybe talking to them by phone helps. I’ll try that next time but I am a bit afraid that they will refuse me a ticket altogether if ask for something different like allowing me to sit on one of those collapsible chairs that hostesses sit on during take-off, while waiting for my turn. Those chairs are usually near the toilets.


I travel a few times a year and the stress of "whats to come" starts me finding massive excuses of "why" not to go :) My partner cannot cope with me not getting "reality treatment, I'm always like I'm fine (um, no I'm not fine) so he talks to the airline ahead of flight, and to whomever is the flying staff of the day, it really and truly has made a difference - for the better, we've even found ourselves in better seats :) klazien just be clear you don't wish to be in the wheelchair aisle, paying the same price as people who are able bodied, you just need the airline to take into account you requirement to sit during the wait. If the people on the phones won't help, the crew on the flight, should...


Thank you, I will take your advice and also prefer not to fly but all our adult children with families live far away.


Dear Klasien, I echo what others have said. I've found the airlines to be very accommodating to my disability. Talk with them when you book, as well as the staff on the plane! You'll find a solution! Don't worry about them refusing you a ticket, as that would be discriminating big-time! Happy travels...,;o)


Thank you


Not ideal but I was looking for a collapsible stick that would go in average suitcase.

my local chemist. day lewis sell one (£8.00) which I use on cross country walks so quite sturdy do fit in my inside pocket.

People do respond to those with sticks.

M&S do operate "can.t wait card" apparently

Merry Christmas



Thank you, I will try that.


How you ask can make all the difference.

Shortly after cruising height press your steward bell and when they arrive say "I'm really hoping you can help me". Then explain your problem and ask "what is the best way around this do you think?" If they don't suggest the steward seat or some other solution, such as calling for them when you want to use the toilet, ask if there are any fold down seats nearby. Make sure to tell them how much you hate being a nuisance and drawing attention to yourself.

If this is going too far for you here's an interesting fact.

In researching queues for the office photocopier it was found the best way to jump the queue was by using the word 'because', with almost anything else. Because I might have to go in the corridor, may move you up the queue quite fast!! Because I can't stand. Ask with a smile, it makes such a difference, and the typical English phrase "I'm sorry to be a nuisance" or just " I'm sorry to ask".

Good luck and report back please.



Thank you.


The other alternative is to get tolterodine on prescription works for me



What is tolterodine?


Is your problem one of standing up or of not peeing yourself?

If it's the latter then I take a medication called ceris to help with my bladder problem.


My problem is with both. I can only stand for a very short time before collapsing (which would be too much of a spectacle) and have used a medication to help control the bladder. But after several years that did not help anymore and not taking it now makes no difference.

They say that my next option will be a Botox injection in the bladder. I can’t see how a Botox injection would help and anyway, a Botox injection anywhere seems horrible to me so I don’t want that.

Being able to sit next to the toilet while waiting would be alright so next time I am going to follow the advice of several answers that I have had and ask the aeroplane staff for a seat while waiting.

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