A long-standing argument over bathroom size and entertainment options finally found resolution.
We all know airplanes aren’t the best places to stretch or move around with ease. For passengers who use wheelchairs, though, it can be a nightmare. More and more stories have come out recently about the unfair and uncomfortable setup on planes for those with special and medical accessibility needs, and the U.S. Department of Transportation just announced they’re finally doing something about it.
While airlines have complied with the regulations set out by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, previously unconsidered issues like inadequate bathroom size have been brought to light thanks to social media. Now, the DOT’s ACCESS Advisory Committee—which includes airline representatives, flight attendants, and people with disabilities—revealed they plan to make bathrooms on single-aisle aircrafts (a.k.a. six-abreast seating in a cabin below 13 feet of width), which account for most domestic and short-haul international flights, more accessible for those in wheelchairs or who need extra assistance on board.
“The agreement reached by the ACCESS Advisory Committee is an important step towards ensuring that air travelers with disabilities have equal access to air transportation,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx in a release. “It is unfair to expect individuals with limited mobility to refrain from using the restroom when they fly on single aisle aircraft, particularly since single aisle aircraft are increasingly used for longer flights.”
While the committee understands that the current size of the lavatory would not change immediately, they do want to require airlines to “take a number of steps to improve the accessibility of these lavatories short of increasing their size three years after the effective date of the final rule.” Along with better bathroom accessibility, they also want better “maneuverability standards for the aircraft’s on-board wheelchair.” In the future, they want all single-aisle aircrafts with more than 125 passengers to be required to have the more accessible, larger bathroom currently found on twin-aisle aircraft. It was not specified whether or not new planes would have to be built or if current ones would have to be reconstructed and who would take on that cost.
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