I've got MSNBC on, and Keith Olberman just mentioned a little gem on a Chinese airline that's trying to cut the crap with respect to the environment. A quick google found a just breaking article on in-flight plumbing from The Guardian (so just breaking the dateline is December 1, and it's still November 30th here).
Could it be the first flush of environmental awareness in China? One of the country's leading airlines has begun encouraging passengers to use the toilet before they board flights as a way of saving energy.
Chinese Southern Airlines hopes to reduce costs with the new policy because it estimates that a single flush at 30,000 feet uses a litre of fuel, the Xinhua news agency reported yesterday. "The energy used in one flush is enough for an economical car to run at least 10km," pilot Liu Zhiyuan was quoted as saying.
They're also thinking of cutting out pillows and blankets in flight, again, to save energy through decreased payload. OK. I guess the little pillow and blanket I'd start carrying on overnight flights wouldn't weigh as much.
Hey, I'm all in favor of green initiatives - especially on a day like today when it's almost 70 degrees in Boston, and the daffodils have already started to sprout in the front garden.
Bad enough that US carriers have cattle-carred the steerage sections, and you're lucky to get a bag of peanuts on a lot of flights. But there have to be better ways to save money (and conserve fuel) than asking people not to use the toilet. I can see it now: sit down toilets in first class, urinals in business, and a slit trench in economy. Too bad they can't figure out a way to let the guys roll down the windows to pee out - but that would probably cause too much drag. And maybe a bit of frostbite. Maybe they'll issue catheters when they pass out the earphones.
Maybe this will translate better in China than it does here. But I'd think that any airline that implemented this plan would end up with some mighty pissed-off customers.