The U.S. Department of Transportation now mandates that airlines provide bigger, more accessible lavatories on board to better accommodate passengers with disabilities.
The new rule — finalized Wednesday — would require at least one lavatory to be large enough to accommodate a passenger with a disability and an attendant. However, it could take years to implement the new rule, and it will not apply to all planes.
For starters, the rule would cover new single-aisle jets with at least 125 seats, leaving out regional jets and other smaller planes that account for a large chunk of domestic flying, especially from small airports. Additionally, the government's timeline for the requirement would cover newly built planes being delivered in 12 years, giving airlines and plane makers time to develop and certify lavatory designs.
The new ruling laid out a sooner timeline — next year — for "new type-certified aircraft." It was not immediately clear, though, how that might affect variants of existing types that are currently awaiting certification, such as the Airbus A321XLR and the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 10. It does not appear that the rule would apply to older jets.
The ruling would also apply to new type-certified aircraft starting next year. However, it was not immediately clear whether it would apply to newly certified variants of existing types, like the Airbus A321XLR and the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and 10. The rule likely would not apply to older jets.
The DOT also noted that other provisions like grab handles and accessible faucets should be added inside the lavatories on newly delivered aircraft. Those changes could be implemented as early as July 2026 since the redesigning required is less extensive.
"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," DOT Secretary Pete Buttigieg said in a statement.
Airlines for America, the trade group that represents the major U.S. airlines, said in a statement that it was committed to the rule; it also added that the DOT had reduced the timeline for the development of these accessible lavatories with the new rule.
This article originally appeared on The Points Guy