Why Lufthansa’s A340-600 Has Toilets In The Cargo Hold

The Airbus A340-600 is the largest variant of the type, and with all the space, airlines have been able to include some very unique features – like downstairs toilets. Why does the Lufthansa A340 have downstairs toilets? Let’s find out.

Why Lufthansa’s A340-600 Has Toilets In The Cargo Hold
Lufthansa’s Airbus A340-600 below deck toilets. Photo: Arran Rice/Simple Flying

The special Airbus A340-600

This version of the long-range A340 was the longest aircraft in the world before the Boeing 747-8I. It has a range of 7,800 nautical miles (14,450 km) and can carry 320 to 370 passengers in a three-class configuration or 475 in all-economy. In fact, the plane was designed to be the largest capacity Airbus aircraft in the lineup before the A380 came to the market.

Because the plane is large, it has a lot of space on its two decks (cargo and passenger deck, not to be confused with double-decked aircraft). On its cargo level, it has 201.7 m3 (7,120 cu ft) of space (50 m3 more than the other variants, like the A340-500), space that it might not necessarily need to use.

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Lufthansa, Airbus A340, Teruel
Lufthansa has many of its A340s in storage. Photo: Getty Images

Why Lufthansa has toilets in the cargo hold

With all that space in the cargo hold, Lufthansa was faced with a choice. Does the airline try to fill it up with cargo for each flight (and potentially leave with space that it can’t sell), or does it move the toilets downstairs, and place more economy class seats where the toilets were.

Lufthansa chose the latter option, and after relocating the toilets downstairs, was able to increase the number of passengers onboard the aircraft. And it’s not just a lavatory Lufthansa has on this deck, but also an extra galley for food and beverages. The carts are loaded on the lower level, and then a small elevator brings them up to the thirsty passengers.

The seat map of a Lufthansa A340. Notice the map includes the downstairs toilet. Photo: Lufthansa

During the flight, Lufthansa would station a flight attendant in the galley next to the bathrooms to ensure that passengers were taken care of and safely secure in the event of an emergency. The downstairs space has a maximum limit of ten passengers due to having only ten oxygen masks.

Is the Lufthansa A340 the only plane to have toilets in the cargo hold?

Many other airlines have considered using cargo space for other purposes onboard aircraft. In the airbus range, the sister aircraft, A330, also had the same option for a downstairs bathroom, galley, and lounge. Although only a few airlines took up the proposition (like Airtours International with its A330 aircraft). You can see a photo here.

Other aircraft like the Lockheed Martin L-1011 could turn the forward cargo area into a downstairs boarding lounge complete with a door and stairs. This would allow passengers to arrive at the airport, walk to the plane (no security back then), and board from the tarmac without a stair car. They could then enjoy refreshments, take off their coat before taking a seat upstairs.

What do you think? Did you ever use the downstairs bathroom on the Lufthansa A340? Let us know in the comments.