In a video shared to TikTok earlier this month, a pilot named Garrett, @flywithgarrett, addressed aeroplane bathrooms, and cleared up a myth about what exactly happens when passengers flush the on-board toilet.
“Did you know whenever you flush the toilet on an aircraft, it actually doesn’t dump out into the population below,” he jokingly began.
He went on to explain that that waste is later cleaned out of the plane, telling viewers: “It goes through plumbing to the rear of the aircraft in the seal compartments, where the ground crew at the destination will remove all that waste.”
In the candid video, Garrett also noted how much waste can build up over time, especially during a long flight.
“On a 747, during a long-haul flight, toilets can be flushed over a thousand times, creating over 320 gallons of waste,” he said. “That’s a lot.”
As of 30 December, the video has more than 4.1 million views, with TikTok users addressing and questioning the misconception that waste from plane toilets is released into the sky.
“My mum always told me it used to be dropped from the plane but it would disintegrate before it hit the bottom,” one person admitted.
Others were shocked to realise how common the factually inaccurate belief was among travellers.
“Wait people actually think it dumps out below?” another viewer asked. “So they think there’s [waste] falling out of the sky and it’s not the [birds]?”
Ever curious where it goes when you’re on the airplane? 🤢💩✈️♬ original sound – Flywithgarrett
Someone else said: “Other people actually believe that it would get expelled from the aircraft to the population below?”
The majority of viewers said they were aware of the process before the pilot’s clarification video, however, it prompted many to praise the workers who clean out the waste after each flight.
“Ground crew deserves a raise,” one viewer wrote, while another said: “Yep, as a flight attendant I’m totally aware of this….haha.”
According to an article published by Reader’s Digest, when an aeroplane toilet is flushed, “a trapdoor in the base opens” and “liquid is released”. From there, waste is then transported through the plumbing to the rear of the plane and “stored in sealed tanks”.
The Independent has contacted Garrett for comment.