Unbelievable as it may sound, the only apparent law on the books that requires an aircraft to fly with a working restroom, the Air Carrier Access Act of 1986, applies to planes with more than one aisle that were delivered or refurbished after April 1992. That's a huge loophole, given the number of jets that are older or have just one aisle. Plus, federal law seems to be mum when it comes to the all-important passenger-to-toilet ratio on a plane.
Oh my God, whatever shall we do? I mean, if there's no law, it's merely a matter of time before airlines force their passengers to "hold it" for the duration of the flight. Emergency session! Pass a law now, before there's stinking planes full of piss and shit flying around our fair country!! Oh noes!!
Or maybe it's not such a big problem after all, because airlines don't want to piss off their passengers.
Of course, airlines don't exploit this regulatory lapse. United, like other domestic and international airlines, operates all its planes - no matter their age or size - with a full complement of working restrooms. Most of the time. "If a lavatory is malfunctioning, we will close it down and refer customers to an alternative one on the plane," said a United spokeswoman, Robin Urbanski. "If more than one lavatory is malfunctioning, we typically divert the plane."
As Derek was saying to me, "I think there are people who believe basic physical forces would cease to function if the American legislature did not enact a regulation requiring them to occur. So of course airlines wouldn't put washrooms in just to keep their passengers happy and using their airline..."
Next time someone suggests a law to fix a non-problem, just remind them of the idiocy of toilet regulations for airplanes.
Hat tip: Nick Gillespie at Hit and Run
...not dead yet...