Airplane Lavatory ‘Laviator’ Self-Portraits Get Artsy

Three years ago, Gadling’s Heather Poole snapped a self-portrait in an airplane lavatory, started a Flickr group and the “laviator” trend was born. Over a hundred official members later, California-based artist Nina Katchadourian has taken the laviator to a new level by creating Flemish Renaissance-style self-portraits on a 14-hour flight.

Katchadourian started with a basic paper toilet seat cover and a camera phone, and then introduced a few scarves to create different backgrounds and airplane accessories ranging from an eye mask to a neck pillow to build a group of portraits. The resulting photographs resemble Dutch masters you might see in an art museum, but savvy travelers will recognize some of her props from around their airplane seat.

This isn’t Katchadourian’s first appearance on Gadling. We’ve previously admired her work with maps, and Mike Barish found a kindred spirit with her “Skymall Kitties” video.

Want to put your own spin on the laviator portrait? Snap a pic on your next flight and add it to the Flickr pool. You might even usurp my title as cutest laviator.


[Photo courtesy artist Nina Katchadourian]

“Gate rape” is Urban Dictionary’s Word of the Year. Thanks TSA!

patdowns have gotten a lot of coverage here on Gadling. The tragicomic lengths TSA officials go through to grab some booty keep us safe have created a whole Internet subculture of jokes and rage. There’s even a blog called The Daily Patdown to showcase pictures of security officials looking for the next underwear bomber.

Now the fine folks at Urban Dictionary have named “Gate Rape” as the Word of the Year for 2010. Nobody knows who coined this sadly appropriate phrase, but it’s catching on. For some reason people don’t liked getting groped, especially if they’re Indian diplomats. Perhaps we will be seeing civil and criminal suits for gate rape in the near future?

Urban Dictionary has lots of travel-related slang, such as Travel Nazi and Heather Poole’s greatest invention: Laviating!

Happy Christmahanakwanzaka everybody!

[Image courtesy TSA. You wouldn’t believe what I had to do to get it.]

Galley Gossip: Laviators Unite – at

After I wrote the article hottest trend on the airplane since the mile high club something odd happened, readers started emailing me photos of themselves in the lav! Of course that prompted me to write Laviators Unite -Mile High Headshots! in order to share the official laviators photo gallery (where all the photos eventually end up). Something truly amazing happened after the photo gallery was unveiled. One of my readers from Romania, George, created The official laviators music video. Just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, Michelle (pictured), one of my favorite laviators, actually managed to get the word into Urban Dictionary!

LAVIATOR : A person or people who take photos of themselves in the lavatories (restrooms) of airplanes

And then Michelle one upped herself and made her own hilarious laviator video. I do hope she’s begun a new trend.

Interested in joining the club? Here’s how…

On your next flight:

1. Grab your camera (Put it in your pocket)
2. When the seat belt sign is off, go to the lav. (Don’t forget to lock the door)
3. Take a picture of yourself (Get creative! That’s what this is all about.)
4. Keep it clean, people! (That’s rule #1)
5. Submit your photo to the laviators new home on and then I’ll feature the best photos here on Gadling

Check out our newest coolest members…


I’m in Geneva this week for the big business aviation show. Attached is a photo of me in the lav on the Boeing Business Jet that used to belong to Phil Condit, the past Chairman/CEO of Boeing. The plane is up for sale. Flightblogger and I plan on sending you another picture of us in a bizjet lav. I hope this finds you well! -Benet Wilson (Aviation Weekly)

The last time I saw you, Benet, you were posing in the lav with flightblogger on Oprah’s jet – as in the big O! Which only makes sense considering you’re kind of like Oprah yourself in the aviation world. You’re also the laviator record holder for most laviator submissions! You go, Girl!

Since the inception of the introduction of the term Laviator I have resisted the trend of shooting portraits in an airplane lavatory. My primary resistance to being a Laviator … or Laviating or having Laviated was that I really didn’t want to bring a camera into an airplane lavatory. Seriously … airplane lavatories are germ incubation factories. I generally find myself wiping down the seat twice, and on the way out washing my hands twice, followed by a generous use of Purell to wash my hands after touching the door on the way out… – Steven Frischling, Flying With Fish

It’s about time, Steven! To be honest I never really thought this day would ever come. Especially after receiving your sorry attempt at a laviator shot taken from inside the spic and span Admirals Club Lounge restroom in the airport terminal. Now if Purell doesn’t jump all over this amazing marketing opportunity, featuring the laviators in an advertising campaign, I’ll be shocked. Because we, the frequent flying laviators, are the face of antibiotic hand lotion in the sky.

About a week ago, Flying with Fish posted laviator photos of himself. I thought I’d continue the meme, from onboard Cathay Pacific First Class. What could be trashier than taking a picture of yourself in the lavatory? Except here I am, in a first class lavatory. Oh, sweet irony! – Gary Leff, View From The Wing

That’s one swanky looking lavatory you’re hanging out in, Gary! I heard from the husband a reliable source that those hand lotions behind you smell absolutely amazing. Do they? Oh don’t you dare tell me you didn’t take a whiff. Because I know you did. In fact, I bet you ten bucks you even sampled a few different kinds. Don’t deny it, Gary, or else I’ll have to check inside your carry-on tote for evidence. As for what can be trashier than taking a self-portrait of yourself in the lav, well I can think of something – my job! Try collecting trash for a living at 30,000 feet. In fact, if you’re ever on one of my flights I’ll let you do just that. Then we can talk trash!

This was NOT easy! – Pam Mandel, Nerds Eye View

Yeah, I know that Pam! This is especially true when you’re posing with a ukulele in the lav! But that’s part of the fun, isn’t it? By the way, what did the flight attendants say when they saw you going into the bathroom with a musical instrument? Oh I bet you were major Galley Gossip that day! I mean here I thought it was weird when a passenger inside the lavatory cracked open the door and asked if we had any magazines to read on board, but that almost makes sense compared to what you were doing. Big probs to you, my friend! How bout next time you play a little something on the uke, but don’t forget your tripod because I’ll need to see a video of that for sure. (Please!)

Hey hey, here it is – JL

Hey, hey – wait a minute….so this is what happened to The Smashing Pumpkins! Hey, do me a favor and tell Jessica Simpson I said hello. Take that back, tell Jessica Simpson she’s next! Besides you, Billy Corgan – Oops I mean JL (wink wink) – I don’t have a celebrity laviator shot.

Laviated on Southwest Airlines – a 737-700. Flying from SMF-SEA wearing a reverse Laviator T-shirt designed by Windtee, maker of aviation artwork! – Julie

Hey, I need one of those shirts!

I took the photo in the first class lav on American Airlines from DFW – CLT this morning on my 79th flight of the year. :) This is the second year in a row I’ve flown on my birthday! – Julia

From this day forth I think everyone should spend at least one birthday in a lav on an airplane. Lord knows I have – too many times to count! Let’s not even talk about all the holidays. Now what I like about this picture, Julia, is not your pretty eyes or the way your sweater pops or the clarity of the photo, but the coffee bag hanging on the back of the lavatory door. That, my friend, is airplane deodorizer. (Works wonders sprinkled on top of barf as well)

Galley Gossip: Laviators – the best of the best contest!

Last week a producer from ABC Nightline News contacted me about doing a story on the laviators – THE LAVIATORS! I know, it’s weird, I can’t believe it myself. But one of their corespondents actually happened across my blog after surfing around Youtube where they found people doing all sorts of bizarre things in airplane bathrooms. Of course I asked if he’d seen my video, 25 ways to use a maxi pad in flight, but he had not, so I emailed it to him right away. What he had seen, it turns out, was Michelle’s funny laviator music video featured below.

Michelle really stepped it up a notch,” the producer said matter of fact over the phone.

“That she did!” I agreed. Then I added, “She’s also the one responsible for getting the word ‘laviator’ into the urban dictionary! Now if only we can get the word ‘lavatar,’ as in a laviator avatar, in there as well.”

The producer laughed, and then went on to describe the club as “hysterically weird” and asked what might compel someone to take pictures of themselves in the lavatory.

Honestly, I’m still trying to figure that one out myself, and I’m the first official laviator! Although I’m pretty sure it has something to do with boredom. Or maybe it’s just exciting to do something a little risque – and weird – on an airplane. Then again, it could be all of the above. Who knows. All I know for sure is the end result is fun.

After pitching his story idea, the producer assured me he’d be back in touch. That was over a week ago and I still haven’t head from him. Well that got me thinking. Let’s have a best of the best laviator photo contest!


That way ABC Nightline News will have no choice but to feature the club on their award winning show when they see just how amazing the laviators truly are. How about if I narrow it down to a few of my favorite shots and you be the judge? Come on, what do you say? Don’t be scared. It’ll be fun! Winner gets a free Laviator T-shirt donated and designed by Windtee, a maker of aviation T-shirt art. All you have to do is click on the photo gallery above, choose your favorite laviator, and then scroll down to the bottom of this post and cast your vote by Tuesday, October 27! That’s it.

Not a member of the laviators club yet? What the heck are you waiting for! On your next trip pack a camera in your carry on bag and then, when the seat belt sign is turned off, nonchalantly slide it into a pocket before making your way to the lav. Once behind the locked door, start clicking away. Don’t be shy. Get creative! As soon as the flight touches ground, make sure to email your photo to me – Heather DOT Poole AT weblogsinc DOT com (or submit it to the Gadling Flickr pool) – and I’ll include it in the official laviator photo gallery. Who knows, perhaps you’ll even make it into the best of the best laviator contest, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll see yourself on ABC Nightline News. Hey, you never know!