Meet the Congressman That’s #1 About Going Number Two

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.

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.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just the other day I was pondering: “Whatever happened to Roger Rabbit?”

    At least now, thanks to this POS legislation, I know where his teeth are…

  2. Finally a legislator they is proactive instead of reactive. But I guess bloggers just like to complain. Youshoukd lkink to the bill, not to some ill-informed journalist article. The actual bill is pretty good, as it forces the airlines to refund payment for service not rendered (timely delivery of bags) AND prohibits them to charge a change fee if you don’t want to fly on an aircraft without working lavatories (for example, you’re my grandfather who needs the lavatory evry couple of hours due to his medical condition). This is laudable and humane, if only reactive.

    We need more Congresspeople like him. And less people like you who instead of siding with travelers makes a fast buck with cheap shots.

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