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While no commercial airliner is outfitted with a truly accessible bathroom, some aircraft do have larger and more accessible lavatories that provide space for disabled passengers to access the toilet using an onboard aisle wheelchair. Those accessible lavatories tend to appear on larger jets with dual aisles and, while the DOT has issued a new rule that will require larger lavatories on single-aisle aircraft in the future, widespread availability is still decades away.

John seated on an aisle chair inside a standard sized lavatory.

In the meantime, wheelchair users continue to fly on aircraft that deprive them of access to the toilet. Many travelers limit their intake of liquids to the point of dehydration to prevent having to use the bathroom, but that doesn’t always work on longer flights. Disabled passengers do their best to hold it, but, as the saying goes, “when you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.”

I had that experience recently on a flight within the State of Alaska. I really had to go and, not only was the onboard lavatory inaccessible, but the flight was experiencing turbulence — I couldn’t have used the aisle chair even if I had wanted to. The turbulence made it even harder for me to “hold it,” and I knew I wouldn’t make it to landing and arrival, which was still more than an hour away. Thankfully, I had something in my bag — a tool that I have used many times during my traveling career, a tool that saves me from the indignity of soiled trousers, and allows me to discreetly relieve myself even in the cramped quarters of an airplane.

Package of disposable urinals.

That product is the TravelJohn, a single use urinal adapted for use by both men and women. This ingenious and disposable product is small but, once unrolled, can hold up to 28 ounces (800cc) of liquid. Liquids deposited into the bag instantly turn to gel, making this a leak-proof solution that you can tuck away after going. The waste or vomit bag provided at your seat is a great place to store a used TravelJohn until landing — then, you can simply toss it into a trash can in the airport terminal.

You can use the TravelJohn anywhere — at your seat, after covering yourself with a blanket or jacket; or inside the airplane lavatory after requesting the aisle wheelchair. Even if you can’t transfer onto the toilet seat in an inaccessible lavatory, the TravelJohn can make it possible for you to use the bathroom with some privacy.

The product is affordable and offers me tremendous peace of mind — I keep a few of these in my backpack at all times, and they protect me from embarrassing accidents. It’s frustrating that wheelchair users have to resort to carrying a portable urinal on flights, but the TravelJohn is a tremendous upgrade over the typical plastic jugs given to hospital patients.

You can purchase a pack of TravelJohn disposable urinals from Amazon for less than $20, and shipping is free for Prime members.

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