This Is What Happens When You Flush The Toilet On An Airplane

Do they dump the waste mid-air?

Cover image via Getty via Metro

In case you haven't yet noticed, we have been slightly obsessed with airplane-related mysteries, lately. From wondering why airplane windows are round and not square to why do they still have ashtrays in the toilet, we have gone over almost everything.

Although, there's one thing that is still left. And that is: what happens when we use the toilet on a flight and flush mid-air at 32,000 feet up? Where does all of the waste go?

A modern day toilet inside a modern day aircraft, the Air New Zealand Business Premier Cabin.

Image via Examiner

While airplane toilets have come a long way since the early days of air travel when WWII pilots urinated into bottles or used to shit into boxes and toss them out of the windows, it still doesn't stop people from claiming that airplanes dropped frozen blue poop on them

The image used is for illustration purposes only. (Duh!)

Image via Getty via Metro

Like this woman from India, who claims that she was hit by a frozen ball of shit.

According to a report in the Times of India, the poop, in the form of a frozen blue ball, was believed to have come from a passing flight, which unintentionally dropped a ball of frozen urine and excrement from its toilet.

However, it was very likely just a chunk of ice formed under the atmospheric conditions.

Which makes you wonder, though, do airplanes ever dump their waste while mid-air? (Apart from the fact that they can't, it's also not allowed). So, what happens to the poop inside the airplane toilets?

There are two systems used in modern airline toilets.

One is a "closed waste system," which works much like a common house toilet and flushes the wastewater into an onboard sewage tank, and the other, more modern is called "vacuum waste system," which sucks wastewater into the tank.

From the Gizmodo's piece on the same:

"The vacuum toilets rely on strong suction and slick walls to pull waste away using just a fraction of a gallon of water. Pressing the flush button opens a valve in the bottom of the bowl, exposing the contents to a pneumatic vacuum. That vac sucks the load down the plane's sewer line into a 200-gallon holding tank. Then, the waste remains in the tank for the duration of the flight, and it's vacuumed out by crews on the ground."

Just how powerful and efficient the vacuum toilet system is:

There's an exterior latch on the waste holding tank that ensures that pilots don't accidentally dump the waste in mid-air, so there is no way to jettison the contents of the toilets while the plane is mid-air

This helpful video explains how the waste is disposed off from an airplane toilet:


There was once an aircraft that was famously nicknamed the "Whistling Shithouse" due to the whistling noise it produced from airflow when its toilet lid was lifted while the aircraft was mid-air.

And here are some more interesting facts about airplanes:

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