Suing Over Small Lavatories and Suing Another Passenger for Breaking Inflight Rules

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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. I applaud these folks for suing
    The bathroom size is unacceptable for a non handicapped let alone a handicapped individual
    One day any one of us could be disabled.I’d be happy to donate to the cause!!
    Hopefully they can sue the airlines too for doing so!

  2. @dwondermeant — The idea that non-handicapped individuals can’t use every airplane lavatory in existence is absurd. You may not LIKE using it (which isn’t something the gov’t should be regulating), but they’re all perfectly usable.

    The handicap issue is harder. The question is how many people would benefit from the larger lavs vs. the cost. I know some people that cost/benefit analyses are stupid, but most folks in the real world understand the importance. There’s no question that enlarging lavs will cost airlines money and, in turn, fares will go up. There’s no free lunch. I guess it’s for society to determine if it’s “worth it.” I would think a detailed analysis of how many people would be materially benefited would be a very good idea.

  3. @chopsticks Prices would go up, but airlines will use any excuse to make them go up anyway. They are already raising prices in places with no competition, and any airline that uses this as an excuse will get horrible PR. So, this isn’t likely to affect prices, and with all of the fuel surcharges added when gas prices went up and were never removed, airlines can afford this.

    Also, narrow body planes can now go over 12 hours, so it really is a problem.

  4. Also, there’s no way for a passenger to know if their plane will be wide body or narrow. It used to be a safe bet that long haul flights would be wide body, but that just isn’t true anymore.

  5. @Victor — With this newfangled thing known as “the internet,” it is ridiculously easy to figure out what type of aircraft you’ll be on. I assume if a handicap-lav is something you need, you would be acutely aware of which aircraft have them.
    The real question is whether more aircraft should be required to have them. Like when the regs were written, I assume most (or at least many) transcon flights were widebodies. Now, it’s rare to fly a domestic USA widebody. So pax who need medically need extra large lavs are definitely inconvenienced (I think most of us would agree that “holding it” could be difficult for 4+ hour flights). If there is truly a significant number of individuals who would be helped by having a large lav, I could see the benefit of legislating it, especially with a phase-in period for new aircraft. But that requires real research. I know I think I’ve only once ever seen a wheelchair-bound pax use a “special lav” on a widebody aircraft. And that’s over several hundred widebody flights. Are there more pax who would fly with these bigger lavs? Again, research would be needed. But I would not trivialize the cost of imposing this requirement. As we’ve seen with developments like slimline seats, space is ridiculously valuable/expensive onboard a commercial aircraft.

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