Last updated: 11:03 AM ET, Thu December 10 2015

Bill Would Prevent Airlines From Imposing Bathroom Fee

Airlines & Airports | Rich Thomaselli | December 10, 2015

Bill Would Prevent Airlines From Imposing Bathroom Fee

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

Can you imagine fumbling for change when you gotta go?

The idea of having to pay a fee to use the restroom on an airplane seems outlandish and ludicrous – which, of course, is precisely the reason some people fear it could happen, especially in this day and age of airlines raking in monstrous cash from ancillary fees.

In fact, one United States congressman is concerned it could happen he has filed a bill in the House over it.

The proposal by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) is part of a larger measure known as the Comfortable and Fair Flights Act of 2015. Not only would the bill prohibit airlines from adding bathroom fees to its myriad charges for ancillary fees ranging from seat selection to baggage to snacks, but would also allow passengers to change flights for free if bathrooms on their scheduled flights are out of order, and require airlines to issue refunds for bag fees if luggage is delayed by two or more hours.

As crazy as all that might seem, it’s not exactly far-fetched. Five years ago, European low-budget carrier Ryanair first proposed such an idea.

"By charging for the toilets we are hoping to change passenger behavior so that they use the bathroom before or after the flight," Ryanair spokesman Stephen McNamara told London's Daily Mail at the time.

That idea was quickly abandoned over several concerns, not the least of which was passenger outrage and a very simple way around it – one person pays to use the loo, and then pays it forward as each subsequent lavatory user simply holds the door open for the next person so they don’t have to pay.

"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. Unfortunately, commercial flights are not required to depart with a functioning bathroom, sometimes forcing passengers to endure a trip without this basic necessity. Moreover, as ancillary fees continue to grow, the specter of an in-flight bathroom fee continues to loom in the background since first being broached in 2010.”

Lipinski said his bill was to ensure basic rights for passengers traveling on U.S. commercial airlines, including lost or delayed baggage.

"Many of us are all too familiar with paying baggage fees and have come to accept them as part of the flying experience," he said. "While lost and delayed baggage rates are declining, passengers who suffer from this inconvenience do so without the right to a refund, even after hours or days of delay. Simply put, if you pay for a service, you should get that service promptly or get your money back.”


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