28 years ago Alaska Airlines predicted that their competitors would be charging coach passengers to use the lavatories. It never happened.
Oh, every time Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary feels like he hasn’t gotten media attention in awhile, he proposes the idea. He’s never actually serious. But an airline that talks about how cheap they are they’d even charge you to use the toilet is getting free advertising for how cheap they are.
American Airlines Boeing 787 Lavatory
There’s a lot of etiquette to airline bathrooms.
- Should coach passengers be able to use first class lavatories? (A coach passenger was recently arrested for it..)
- Is it ok to use the lavatory while the seat belt sign is on?
- What if you’re in the window seat and the person in the aisle is asleep? Do you climb over or wake? Who controls access to the aisle?
- If an aircraft’s lav is out of order, how long can you hold it? What if access to the lavatory is just blocked your pilot is busy flirting with a flight attendant?
One Congressman wants to take etiquette out of the equation and pass a law.
Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), a member of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee and subcommittee on Aviation, has introduced the Comfortable and Fair Flights Act of 2015 which would prohibit airlines from charging passengers to use the lavatory. Even though no airline has ever done it.
His legislation would also allow passengers to change flights for free if the lavatories on their flight are out of order.
“More and more, when airline passengers get on a flight they expect to suffer from uncomfortable conditions; as a frequent flyer I understand this,” Lipinski said in a statement.
“One thing they should never have to worry about is access to a bathroom,” he continued.
Generally speaking airlines would already offer fee-free re-accommodation, and while there have been stories of passengers flying on planes without operating lavatories I’ve never heard of an airline refusing to re-accommodate a passenger under those circumstances. Usually it’s a regional flight that’s relatively short and there may not be other options that appeal to passengers so they make the best of an uncomfortable situation.
In other words the legislation does nothing to help consumer bathroom needs. It bans a practice that doesn’t exist and requires airlines to do what they already do (but doesn’t require them to do more than they already do). Which sounds like most legislation, actually.
Emirates A380 First Class Lavatory
The proposed law does also require airlines to refund checked bag fees if luggage is delayed two hours or more. It is rather galling that airlines charge for a service that they don’t reasonable provide. And more carriers should follow Alaska Airlines which introduced a baggage service guarantee in July 2009.
Lipinski’s legislation isn’t going anywhere, of course, because Bud Shuster.