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New Federal Law requires restroom contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays

14 CFR--PART 259.4 Contingency plan for lengthy tarmac delays.  § 259.4 (4) For all flights, assurance of operable lavatory facilities...    link to § 259.4 ...


Ryanair Airlines tried to charge to use the airline's in-flight lavatory and to reduce the number of toilets from 3 to just 1 read more....     




Building codes mandate a requirement for customer toilets at airport terminals.  Unfortunately there appears to be no protection for airline passengers when on-board a plane.  The Airline Passenger Fair Treatment Initiative recognizes that passengers should be allowed to use airline toilets but the initiative carries no legal mandate.  Our organization has received reports of flights with toilets that are only available to the flight crew.  Some flights are long flights such as an American Airlines flight departing St Louis for New York, that announced  the planes toilets were not operational.  Passengers via the public address system, were urged 'to use the terminal toilets before boarding'.  

Security concerns have exacerbated the problem.  Loaded airlines are sometimes held on the ground and passengers are not allowed to leave their seats until the threat is cleared. Air Marshals have kept passengers from using the toilets for up to 3 hours. 

During heighten security, passengers bound for Reagan Airport in Washington D.C. [and at times other airports] must remain seated for 30 minutes before landing. Besides the time they may have been waiting to use the bathroom before the 'must return to seats' warning, the 'no restroom prohibition' may continue after the plane is on the ground. Although the data on this subject is limited most likely everyday a few passengers are forced to suffer for up to an hour before they can get off the plane and use the restrooms in the terminal. A similar situation exists at destinations where the airlines preclude use of in-flight toilets during short hops. Unfortunately planes are sometimes put in holding patterns. A full bladder combined with the tension caused by an unexpected landing delay can lead to an agonizing sense of urgency.   At least one elected official has learned first hand, how onerous this requirement can be. 

This problem has been exacerbated by recent federal guidelines that discourage a bathroom queue. If there is a high demand, someone seated away from the plane's toilet may repeatedly fail to get to the toilet before a closer passenger.


Congressional Leak Georgia Rep. Urinates in Cup on Flight Home
ABC News June 14 2002

Airline officials are trying to figure out if there is anything to be done after a Georgia congressman urinated into a cup on a flight from Washington to Atlanta on Thursday night.

Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop, flying from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Hartsfield Airport on Delta Flight 1717, got up to go to the bathroom after the mandatory half-hour when passengers must stay seated, but found the lavatories on the airplane occupied, ...

[ deleted text ]



IBM flushes restroom patent

"Because of the shortage of restrooms on board, it is often necessary for passengers (on an airplane) to stand for quite sometime in the aisles while queuing to use the restroom," IBM said in a description of the patent, No. 6,329,919. "Standing in the aisle of a moving aircraft creates safety hazard and inconveniences for both the passenger and other people on board. ..

Originally filed in August 2000, IBM's restroom reservation patent describes a system that would determine who is next in line for using the facilities on an airplane, passenger train or boat. As envisioned in the patent, the system would be run by a computer that would assign customers a number based on a first-come, first-served basis. The system would give customers an estimate of their waiting time to use the restroom and would notify them when the restroom was available and allow them to cancel their reservations. 

IBM flushes restroom patent By Troy Wolverton  Staff Writer, CNET News.com Published: October 11, 2002, 2:28 PM PDT 


AIRPORT TERMINAL ANNOUNCEMENT - Lavatory access will not be available on Flight from St Louis to New York.  28 May 2004  6:00 - 7:00PM, most likely Flight AA 682 or AA 5856

"...I know it was American Airlines and I do believe it was to New York. What stands out in my mind is that the flight was at least as long or longer than our flight back to Washington. I would have hated to been on that flight. I don't know what those people did when they really had to go. They at least warned the people who were in boarding area about the problem; however, those who arrived late may have never heard the announcement. Another annoying issue for me is that some airlines won't allow passengers in coach to use the front lavatories. I have been on many flights were people are lined up in the back of the plane to use the lavatory and no one is using the front lavatories. They say this is for security purposes as they don't want people lined up near the cockpit doors. I believe that if they allowed use of all restrooms then lines wouldn't form like they do in the first place.."

Source: phone call and follow up email dated:  Wed, June 16, 2004 9:36 AM
Source: phone call to determine flight number  Jun 18th


National Diverts Plane After Landing Code Mix-Up 

By Katherine Shaver
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 27, 2001; Page B03

An America West flight bound for Reagan National Airport was forced to divert to Dulles International on Sunday after the cockpit crew failed to give the correct code for landing at National, federal officials said.

Flight 90 from Columbus, Ohio, arrived three hours late at National after spending 1 1/2 hours on the Dulles tarmac, where passengers said they had a frustrating, full-bladdered experience. Passengers said the pilot told them that the FBI was forcing the plane to land at Dulles but did not say why… 

[deleted text] 

The tension inside the plane mounted, Dunnebacke said, because passengers were not allowed to use the plane's restrooms for about 45 minutes after landing at Dulles and were not allowed off the plane.

"People were ready to rush the door to get out of the plane and get to a bathroom," Dunnebacke said.

Monahan said the FBI asked that the airline not permit the 119 passengers to get out of their seats or use the bathroom or cell phones until the FBI cleared the plane at Dulles... 

[deleted text ] 

Source:  www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A19511-2001Nov26.html

{MetroPed Note} - In addition to the 45 minutes on ground, restroom use is not allowed for 30 minutes before landing.


Passenger Prompts Landing At Dulles
Man Approached Cockpit Despite Ban

By Lyndsey Layton and Maria Glod
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, November 13, 2001; Page A08

U.S. sky marshals on a flight from Pittsburgh  to Reagan National Airport suddenly ordered a plane to land at Dulles International Airport yesterday, after a passenger got up and started walking toward the cockpit, authorities said.

The passenger, Raho N. Ortiz, 33, refused to follow a new federal rule requiring passengers to remain seated in the last half-hour of an approach to National, said Chris Murray, an FBI spokesman.

About 15 minutes before the plane was to land at National, Ortiz got out of his seat and started walking briskly toward the front of the plane, where a restroom and cockpit are, ...

Two sky marshals -- one with a gun drawn -- and a third man ordered Ortiz to get on the ground. He complied without a struggle, Cannon said. He "kept saying: 'I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I just wanted to go to the bathroom.' " ... 

[ deleted text ] 

Source: www.washingtonpost.com/ac2/wp-dyn/A17692-2001Nov12


TSA discourages lavatory lines on planes

WASHINGTON -- Airlines have been asked to tell passengers they shouldn't congregate near aircraft lavatories because of security concerns, the Transportation Security Administration said Wednesday.

The agency in mid-December sent an advisory to airlines asking them to inform passengers that they should not gather in groups on airplanes, especially near the restroom,  ... 

[ deleted text ] 

Source: The Associated Press  Wednesday, January 7, 2004 


Airline Passenger Arrested for Leaving Seat Within 30 Minutes of Salt Lake City

Monday, February 11, 2002
Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — An airline passenger who allegedly got up to go the bathroom less than 30 minutes before landing became the first person arrested under a new federal flight regulation adopted for the Olympics... [ deleted text ] ... required under the 30-minute rule adopted for Salt Lake City by the Federal Aviation Administration. 

Because of the incident, air marshals aboard the plane ordered all passengers to put their hands on their heads for the rest of the flight. 

[ deleted text ] 


'New Republic' Chat Group discussion of incident


Wednesday, March 10, 1999


Today, Vice President Al Gore announces a new plan to give airline passengers better resources for the 21st Century. This new plan will help ensure fair treatment for airline passengers, full disclosure of essential information, real compensation for unfair treatment, and the resources to implement the initiative.

Ensuring Fair Treatment For Airline Passengers. The Clinton-Gore initiative will help passengers who encounter changing travel conditions and problems with their flights. Airlines will be required to develop policies on notifying passengers about flight delays, cancellations and diversions; providing food, water and restroom facilities during ground delays; and evacuation procedures during extended ground delays. The policies will be filed with the Department of Transportation, ...

[ deleted text ] 

 Source: http://clinton3.nara.gov/WH/Work/031099.html


Airport restrooms: When and how often they're cleaned
Frequent fliers say they're concerned about cleanliness and waiting times at airport bathrooms.
The following is each airport's restroom facilities and cleaning policy.
Number of bathrooms
Number of toilets
Number of urinals
How often bathrooms are cleaned
Every 15 minutes 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; full cleaning after midnight in men's restrooms. Attendants in women's restrooms maintain them 7 a.m.-11 p.m.; full cleaning after midnight.
Baltimore/ Washington
Several times daily.
Every two hours in restrooms without attendants.
Chicago O'Hare
Attendants in 17 restrooms maintain them 6 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Each attendant is responsible for cleaning two to three other restrooms during this period.
Cincinnati/ Northern Kentucky
Three to four times daily
In McNamara Terminal, every four hours. Hourly checks 6 a.m.-10 p.m. and one cleaning during midnight shift. In Smith and Berry terminals, spot cleaning every two hours and a full cleaning during morning and afternoon shifts.
At least 12 times daily.
Fort Lauderdale/ Hollywood
Every 15 minutes 6 a.m.-11 p.m.
Houston Bush Intercontinental
Every 1 1/2 to two hours
Las Vegas
Every hour. Attendants maintain eight Gate C restrooms, 7 a.m.-3 p.m.
Los Angeles
Four or five times daily at domestic terminals; five times daily at Tom Bradley International Terminal and seven times at customs and immigration areas.
Every two hours.
Minneapolis-St. Paul
657 toilets and urinals
Depends on location and time of day, but generally every 60-90 minutes.
New York JFK
Varies by terminal; often hourly during peak flight times. Thorough cleaning during midnight shift.
New York LaGuardia
Varies by terminal; often hourly during peak flight times. Thorough cleaning during midnight shift.
Newark, N.J.
Varies by terminal; often hourly during peak flight times. Thorough cleaning during midnight shift.
Every two to three hours and more thoroughly cleaned at night.
Three to four times daily and more thoroughly at night.
Portland, Ore.
Not available
Hourly at most.
Salt Lake City
Hourly 6 a.m.-10 p.m. More thorough cleaning every night.
San Francisco
At least every two hours 7 a.m.-11 p.m. A 1 1/2-hour cleaning and at least one more cleaning 11 p.m.-7 a.m.
Not available
Depends on use; some cleanings are less than 60 minutes apart.
Washington Dulles
Inspected and spot cleaned every hour and thoroughly cleaned at night.
Washington Reagan National
Inspected and spot cleaned every half an hour and thoroughly cleaned at night.
1 -- May not include some restrooms in terminal restaurants and bars Sources: The airports, USA TODAY research
Copyright 2006 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc.
ARA NOTE: The restrooms at the Smithsonian Museums, a somewhat similar venue, are typically cleaned once at the end of the day. They occasionally are cleaned twice daily during special events.  The restrooms are 'checked' multiple times a day, typically to assure proper stocking levels.  The numerous National Park Service restrooms at the busy National Mall are cleaned once a day except during special events which require a second cleaning.



International Airline Passenger Association  
International Air Transport Association
Air Line Pilots Association
Air Transport Association of America 
National Business Travel Association
Association of Flight Attendants


Security enhancements will be made on all New York-bound trains from Aug. 30 through Sept. 3. These include...  ... A limited number of restrooms, only one or two per train, will be open
Source: The Montclair Times 'Party convenes 12 miles east: Commuters taking traffic in stride' Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Clean restrooms "are a huge deal for airports because after you've been on a plane for four or five hours, maybe you don't want to use the restroom on a plane," said Bob Parker, spokesman for the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. 


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American Restroom Association                                      
PO Box 65111                                                                        
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202-747-6031 - Policy and Media queries 410-358-9007(FAX)

WARNING AND DISCLAIMER: The American Restroom Association (ARA) is formally incorporated in the State of Maryland and is a subsidiary of the International Paruresis Association  ARA is not qualified to provide legal advice. This web site contains non-vetted information that is un-official and for education only. There are no formal or financial agreements with any persons or entities cited. Some material is from copyrighted sources. This material is for education only and it must be source referenced.

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