The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced a new rule which requires airline lavatories to be more accessible.

The new rule, authorised by the Air Carrier Access Act (ACAA), would require airlines to make lavatories on new single-aisle aircraft large enough to permit a passenger with a disability and attendant, both equivalent in size to a 95th percentile male, to approach, enter, and manoeuvre within as necessary to use the aircraft lavatory.

“Travelling can be stressful enough without worrying about being able to access a restroom; yet today, millions of wheelchair users are forced to choose between dehydrating themselves before boarding a plane or avoiding air travel altogether,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.

“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.”

‘Nothing short of groundbreaking’

Paralysed Veterans of America (PVA) Chief Policy Officer Heather Ansley said the announcement by the Department of Transportation that larger single-aisle aircraft will be required to have a wheelchair accessible lavatory in the coming years was “nothing short of groundbreaking”.

“PVA has been fighting for this for over 30 years – submitting reports, filing lawsuits, and advocating before Congress,” she said.

“We are overjoyed that we finally have a rule that means future passengers with disabilities will be able to address basic bodily needs with dignity while on an aircraft. We appreciate the efforts of Secretary Pete Buttigieg and the Department to bring this critical rule over the finish line.

“We now call on airlines to proactively comply with the requirement as soon as possible; so that passengers with disabilities – particularly those who need assistance in the lavatory and those with mobility impairments – will be able to have access like other passengers sooner rather than later.”
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