Government Regulations Will Expand the Size of (Some) Airplane Bathrooms

It addresses a serious issue, but it might not be expansive enough

Airplane bathroom
Changes are coming to (new) airplane bathrooms.
Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images

At a time when airplane seats have gotten smaller and smaller — and proposals for plane interiors could make things even more cramped — it’s not surprising that navigating bathrooms while flying can involve daring feats of contortion. When every inch of space on board a plane has been optimized for certain qualities, the spot where passengers need to do their business is no different.

This is, to put it mildly, not an ideal situation for anyone with mobility issues. On the ground, plenty of bathrooms have options available for people using (for instance) wheelchairs. In the skies, not so much. But that seems to be on the verge of changing, as per an announcement from the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DOT announced a rule that will apply to new single-aisle planes, requiring them to have at least one bathroom that can accommodate, as per the agency’s announcement, “a passenger with a disability and attendant.”

“We are proud to announce this rule that will make airplane bathrooms larger and more accessible, ensuring travelers in wheelchairs are afforded the same access and dignity as the rest of the traveling public,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement.

As The Points Guy’s Meghna Maharishi points out in an article on the new rule, there are some big exceptions to the rule, including smaller regional jets. The fact that older jets aren’t covered by the rule also means that many air travelers may not see the benefits of the rule. The DOT’s rule does address a very real issue — but the question of whether or not it goes far enough is worth considering.


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