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DOT Finally Rules on Disabled Bathroom Access on Single-Aisle Planes

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The Department of Transportation has finally issued its proposals for better access for the disabled on single-aisle planes.

With more and more airlines using single-aisle aircraft on long haul flights, using the lavatory facilities

The proposals come some 29 months after a July 2017 deadline set by Congress to issue new rules, and 10 days after the U.S. Court of Appeals in Denver gave the DOT a hard-and-fast deadline to explain the delay, according to TravelWeekly.

“The inability to use the lavatory on long flights can present significant challenges to passengers with disabilities and poses a deterrent for some passengers with disabilities to travel by air,” the department said in its ruling.

But the proposals were relatively thin. The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking applies only to planes with seating capacity of 125 or more and proposes:

– At least one handicapped accessible bathroom, although the DOT at this time is not asking for a lavatory larger than what fliers are already familiar with.

– Bathrooms will be required to have assist handles.

– Bathrooms will be required to have call buttons and door locks accessible from a seated position on the commode.

– And bathroom lavatory controls and dispensers for soap and water will have to be discernible by touch.

But it still will be a long wait to see significant change. The new standards would apply to new aircraft three years after the proposals are finalized, and existing aircraft will not have to be retrofitted.

The proposal would also require airlines to have an onboard wheelchair designed to permit entry into the aircraft lavatory.

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