SeatGuru.com is pooh-poohing the airline industry over "a going concern": customers having to wait in line for restrooms at 30,000 feet.
The online resource for air travelers calls this "bladder abuse."
"Airlines with too few bathrooms per passenger create frustrating lines that are a real safety concern," says SeatGuru founder Matt Daimler in his bold call for regulation.
Daimler was a frequent flier who launched Boston-based SeatGuru with a single color-coded interactive airplane seating chart in 2001. Six years later the site was purchased by TripAdvisor.com, and the goal of both is to share and provide "the truth" to air travelers from air travelers,
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Restaurants, music venues and the workplace operate under rules requiring so many restrooms per set number of people, but there are no such regulations for aircraft, says Daimler, who notes the Beech 1900 planes flown by Continental and US Airways have no lavatories at all.
His call for bathroom regulations in the sky include:
An increase in the number of bathrooms onboard. US Airways' 757-200 seats 164 people in the economy cabin and offers two toilets, or, a ratio of 82 passengers per toilet, while the Spirit Airbus A319 seats 144 passengers and has two toilets, or a ratio of 72 passengers per toilet.
Federally mandated passenger-to-toilet ratio. There are currently no government regulations dictating the number of toilets per passenger, but the U.S. Air Carrier Access Act of 1986 stipulates that aircraft with more than one aisle in which lavatories are provided shall include at least one accessible lavatory. There are no requirements for bathrooms on commercial carriers that have just one aisle. SeatGuru recommends a 50 passsenger-to-1 toilet ratio minimum.
Accessible lavatories for wheelchair-bound passengers. Under the Air Carrier Access Act, an airline must provide an onboard wheelchair for passenger use on carriers that hold 60 or more passengers, yet most onboard lavatories are too small to accommodate a wheelchair-bound traveler.
- Mandatory bathroom checks prior to take off. Under current U.S. federal regulations, there are no requirements stipulating that toilets need to be operational prior to takeoff. A check of the toilets is at the discretion of the pilot. One SeatGuru frequent flyer recently commented that, on an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to Heathrow, "The toilets stopped functioning halfway into the flight . . . we sat with our legs crossed--but it was horrific as you had so many people needing to go . . . people were crying."
"A short 45-minute flight can easily become three hours or more on the plane due to delays, and not providing access to functional bathrooms is unacceptable," says protector of the peeing public Daimler. "The airlines have already stripped away so many other amenities that we thought were givens--let's make sure that we get some regulations for those who go regularly."