aNewDomain — As I packed for Japan I found my heart racing with anticipation, both for the country and the Japan Airlines aircraft that would shuttle me there. Ever since I first read about the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, I’ve been fascinated by its touted magnificence. The Dreamliner is, essentially, a new-age upgraded flying machine. And for those who travel frequently, the extra features are worth the anticipation.
Dreaming of … Bathrooms?
The aircraft is made of a new composite carbon material that’s lighter than in older planes, so it burns less fuel and has fewer carbon emissions. The cabin features LED lighting and larger windows that can be dimmed by the passengers. Best of all, the cabin has more humidity and is pressurized at 6,000 feet, which helps our bodies absorb about eight percent more oxygen. So my nostrils, sinuses and skin were eager to experience the 787.
The air did feel cleaner and more comfortable. But instead of reveling in the magic of wetter cabin air, I found myself distracted by the Dreamliner bathrooms. They were magnificent.
Is it wrong to fall for a loo? I’m sure the passenger next to me thought I had a bladder problem because I must have visited the bathroom at least a dozen times. Five of those times, though, I was on a purely photographic mission. My primary focus was the larger restroom that is handicap accessible. It felt larger than some New York apartments. Even the regular bathroom seemed a bit more spacious than your average airplane potty.
The space was just the start. Dreamliner loos have mood lighting, a makeup and magnification mirror and a handful of other automated features. The lavatory faucet has an infrared sensor to turn on the water when your hands are under it, just like an airport bathroom. The toilet almost seems animated. When you close the lid, a suction flush is automatically triggered. Just like magic.
Still Cramped, Though
The question circling my head quickly became: Why did I dream of the 787’s moisture and wind up worshipping the toilet?
I was in the Economy section and I didn’t have a lie-flat bed like the Business Class customers. But the main reason I began doing a photographic study of the Dreamliner’s loo was, simply, that I couldn’t sleep. The guy in front of me reclined so far back that I couldn’t find a way to get comfortable. I had leg room, but I wanted to use the foot rest. Unfortunately, his recline pressed the seat against my knees.
It’s still an airplane, after all.
That said, I loved having only one passenger next to me, and I am glad Japan Airlines chose a 2-2-2 cabin configuration instead of a 3-3-3, where 9 passengers are crammed into a row.
And the moisture content really did make a difference. My skin felt much more comfortable during the flight, and I never had to apply any moisturizer to my face. My nostrils still got a bit dry, but far less than usual. And I am a sucker for the lighting on the plane. Check out my artsy night shots.
I wish every flight over 10 hours was on the Dreamliner. Because even if you can’t sleep, you can enjoy photographing the lights or the loo.
All images: Terry Gardner
Screenshot: Terry Gardner courtesy of Boeing