Some planes have hidden power outlets in the bathroom — here's why

By Thomas Pallini

Ultra-low-cost airlines are notorious for having no-frills, and Frontier Airlines is no different. 

In-flight entertainment, in-seat power, and other perks do not come standard when fares are as low as $11, in some cases. And that's a trade-off I'm more than fine with making because I can normally plan around it by bringing spare battery packs and pre-loading entertainment onto my phone.

That was until I forgot to bring my spare battery pack on a recent trip to Florida. 

I was getting ready to fly from Miami to Newark when I noticed that my phone had around 15% battery. Even if I put it in airplane mode , I knew it wouldn't last me long as I'd at least be listening to music on the otherwise entertainment-deprived flight.

My two-year-old iPhone 11, to its credit, lasted a good two hours before its inevitable death just before landing. But that meant I wouldn't have a phone to use when we landed, which I needed to make arrangements to get home. 

So, as soon as we landed, I went to the lavatory. I didn't have to "go to the bathroom;" rather, I noticed during the flight that the lavatory had a standard power outlet and I wanted to see if it could give some juice for my phone. 

Airplane lavatory power outlet
A power outlet in an airplane lavatory.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

Since it was in the lavatory, I assumed it might be for an electric shaver or something like that. Nonetheless, I was sitting in the back of the plane and easily made my way to the lavatory while others were deplaning. 

I know how long the deplaning process takes so I figured I could get a few percentage points of power. To my surprise, it worked and I left with enough power to get me home. 

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I first thought that this was specific to Frontier's Airbus A320neo aircraft, the model on which I was flying since they're the newest planes in the airline's fleet. But a Frontier spokesperson told Insider that "many Frontier aircraft have an electrical outlet in the lavatories."

There's no specific reason why, and Frontier might have preferred not to have it, but it comes standard from Airbus. "This is not a feature we have expressly sought but rather a standard part of the lavatory design provided by the manufacturer," a Frontier spokesperson told Insider. 

Airplane lavatory power outlet
A power outlet in an airplane lavatory.
Thomas Pallini/Insider

That said, Frontier stressed that passengers should not be spending more time than required in the airplane lavatory as others might be waiting to use it. 

"We would not encourage customers to use the outlet to charge a mobile device, which could potentially result in a lavatory being occupied for an unnecessary amount of time and cause inconvenience to others," the spokesperson said. 

But for those that desperately need a charge, the outlet can work in a pinch. Just be mindful of others trying to use the lavatories as there is only a handful on any given plane. 

Not all aircraft have this amenity, and more airlines are updating their fleets to include in-seat power.