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Which Airlines Say where Accessible Toilets on Planes are?

  • Written by Roberto Castiglioni

United AirlinesFlying with a disability requires good preparation and planning. Unfortunately, not all airlines provide detailed information about accessible toilets on planes. For example, both American Airlines and British Airways seat maps do not show which lavatories are accessible. 

In this article, we talk about how the law introduced accessible toilets on long-haul aircraft, which aircraft types are fitted with accessible lavatories and their key features, their location in the cabin depending on the airline, and what assistance you will get if you need to use them. 

Airplane toilets are often cramped, untidy, and have limited space. The cramped spaces in airplane bathrooms can lead to a variety of problems. For example, it is difficult for people with disabilities to get on or off the toilet at all. The lack of privacy can also create issues for people who need assistance from another person, such as parents with small children or those who need help from a caregiver. Even when tagged as “wheelchair-friendly”, airplane lavatories are not always accessible for people with disabilities. 

The Law That Made Accessible Toilets Mandatory on Large Aircraft 

Not too long ago it was common for people to ask if any airlines have disabled toilets. A change to the US Air Carrier Access Act went into effect in May 2009. The ACAA bans air carriers from discriminating against passengers on the basis of disability. Under the new law, the Department of Transportation was given the power to order U.S. and foreign airlines to make their aircraft, facilities, and services accessible. 

The new rule involved ensuring that aircraft that have more than one aisle with lavatories must have at least one accessible lavatory. The accessible lavatory must allow a person with a disability to enter, maneuver within as necessary to use all lavatory facilities, and leave, by means of the aircraft's onboard wheelchair. 

The accessible toilet must be fitted with door locks, accessible call buttons, grab bars, faucets, and other controls, and dispensers usable by people with disabilities, including wheelchair users and those with manual impairments. 

As the law applies to both U.S. and International airlines since 2009 aircraft manufacturers started building new cabin interiors meeting the legal requirements. 

The only downside of this rule is that it only applies to large, twin-aisle aircraft. Single aisle airplanes were and still are excluded from the obligation of being fitted with accessible lavatories. 

However, in 2016, Airbus launched a new cabin interior featuring SpaceFlex, an accessible toilet for single-aisle airplanes. 

On-Board Assistance 

How do disabled people go to the toilet on planes? It is not always easy to get out of your seat during a flight. But cabin crew members are now trained to help you find the nearest toilet and offer a helping hand using the onboard wheelchair that is available on all planes. The cabin crew is not allowed to lift you manually because it is a safety risk. If the crew has access to a slide board they will help you move from your seat to the onboard wheelchair without any lifting. Please be aware that the crew is not permitted to enter the toilet themselves due to hygiene reasons. 

Accessible Toilet Location per Airline and Aircraft Type

 When booking a ticket to a specific destination on an airline website, you will often be able to see the type of aircraft that will be used for that route before you pay. 

We reviewed the cabin configurations and location of the accessible lavatory per aircraft type of the most popular airlines in the United States and the United Kingdom. Airlines are listed in alphabetical order. Some American and European Low-Cost Carriers, although very popular, are not listed because none of their airplanes are fitted with accessible toilets. 

Aer Lingus

The Irish flag carrier operates an all-Airbus fleet. Its A320 and A321 single-aisle aircraft type do not feature an accessible toilet.

The A321 Long Range aircraft type is fitted with a SpaceFlex accessible toilet located at the rear of the economy cabin.

The A330-200 comes with two cabin layouts. In layout 1, two wider lavatories are located at the center of the economy cabin, right behind seat row 28. In layout 2, they are located right behind row 26. On its website, Aer Lingus states that onboard restrooms are not wheelchair accessible but the onboard aisle chair provides accessibility to the entrance of lavatories.

The A330-300 has only one cabin configuration. There is one wider lavatory in business class in front of row 1, and two midway the economy cabin adjacent to row 27 and 28. On its website, Aer Lingus states that onboard restrooms are not wheelchair accessible but the onboard aisle chair provides accessibility to the entrance of lavatories.

 Air Canada

 No single-aisle aircraft in Air Canada’s fleet is fitted with an accessible lavatory. The Canadian flag carrier has a long-haul fleet that is made up of aircraft types from both Boeing and Airbus. All of these aircraft features accessible toilets. Air Canada's twin-aisle aircraft have facilities that are accessible to customers with disabilities. A lot of the fittings onboard their aircraft are designed to be easily operable with one hand. This includes door handles and locks, grab bars, soap dispensers, faucets, and flush controls.

The Boeing 777-300ER comes with two cabin layouts. In layout 1 the accessible lavatory is located on the left side of the economy cabin behind row 43. In layout 2 the accessible lavatory is located right behind the business class cabin and in front of economy class row 12.

The Boeing 777-200 has an accessible toilet on the left side of the economy class cabin behind row 26.

The A330-300 is fitted with the accessible lavatory at the center of the economy class cabin by row 32.

Both Boeing 787-8 and 787-9 are fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 29.

Air France

All of the French flag carrier long-haul aircraft, and some of their medium-haul aircraft, are equipped with toilets accessible to people with reduced mobility. None of the single-aisle aircraft are fitted with accessible lavatories so Air France installed a curtain in front of the rear toilets on these airplanes to create a private space. It should be noted that not all Air France seat maps clearly display which lavatories are accessible.

Air France has three cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft type. In layout 1 (296 seats) the accessible lavatory is located on the left side of the economy cabin behind row 35. In layout 2 (381 seats) the accessible toilet is located on the left side of the economy cabin behind row 38. In layout 3 (472 seats) the wheelchair-friendly toilet is located in the center of the economy cabin behind row 26.

Air France has two cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft type. In layout 1 (200 seats) the wheelchair-friendly toilet is located in the center of the economy cabin behind row 31. In layout 2 (312 seats) the accessible toilet is located on the left side of the economy cabin behind row 30.

The Boeing 787-9 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 24.

The A350 features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 29.

 American Airlines

It's frustrating but all of the maps on the American Airlines website don't show which lavatories are disability friendly and where they are located. Initially, this may seem like a minor problem but it actually contains many more significant implications which need to be addressed. People with restricted mobility book their tickets beforehand and choose their seats depending on how mobile or immobile they are. This information is vital to them. The American Airlines website complies with the basic requirements of the Air Carrier Access Act but does not provide this feature that makes a true difference for disabled passengers.

The American Airlines long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 777-200 and 777-300ER, 787-8 and 787-9. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

 British Airways

 Just like AA, British Airways aircraft seat maps do not specify which lavatories are accessible and their location in the aircraft cabin. BA is usually at the forefront of accessibility but in this case, they are lagging behind the rest of the pack.

The British Airways long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 777-200 and 777-300ER, 787-8 and 787-9, A350-1000 and A380-800. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

 Cathay Pacific

 Hong Kong’s flag carrier long-haul fleet features accessible toilets. Seat maps clearly show their location within the cabin. Accessible lavatories are marked “Toilet suitable for passenger with reduced mobility”.

The airline has three cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-300 aircraft type. Layout 77K has the accessible lavatory fitted on the left hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 19. Layout 77A has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 12. Layout 77K has the accessible lavatory fitted at the center of the economy class cabin right behind row 53.

The A350-900 features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 47. The A350-1000 features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 49.

The airline has five cabin layouts of the A330-300 aircraft type. Layouts 33K, 33E, and 33J have the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 18. Layout 33P has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the economy class cabin right behind row 42. Layout 33B has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the economy class cabin right in front of row 39.

Cathay Pacific is one of the few airlines with a single-aisle aircraft type fitted with an accessible lavatory. The A321Neo aircraft type features an accessible toilet at the left rear of the economy class cabin right behind row 64.

Delta Airlines

 In 2021, Delta became the world's largest airline in terms of both revenue and market cap. However, none of Delta Airlines' aircraft seat maps specifies which lavatories are accessible and their location in the aircraft cabin.

The Delta long-haul fleet comprises A330-200, A330-300, A330-900neo, A350-900, Boeing 757-200, 757-300, 767-300ER, and 767-400ER. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

Easyjet

In 2016, easyjet became the first European airline to fit its newer single-aisle aircraft with an accessible toilet. However, availability of SpaceFlex toilets per aircraft type cannot be found on the easyjet website. On seat maps, SpaceFlex is only clearly marked on the seat map of the A321Neo. Some A320Neo are also fitted with SpaceFlex but the information is not immediately available. Older A320 and A319 are not fitted with accessible toilets.

 Emirates Airlines

 Emirates seat maps only feature seat locations but do not show where lavatories are! Needless to say, it is impossible to determine where accessible toilets are located within the aircraft cabin.

The Emirates long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 777-200LR and 777-300ER in three layouts, and A380-800 in four cabin layouts. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

Hawaiian Airlines

 Just like other U.S. carriers, none of Hawaiian Airlines' aircraft seat maps specify which lavatories are accessible and their location in the aircraft cabin.

The Hawaiian long-haul fleet comprises A321Neo and A330-200. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

 Jet2

Jet2 seat maps are not available on the airline’s website. It is therefore impossible to know if their A330 and A321 aircraft are fitted with accessible toilets.

 JetBlue

Jetblue does not publish seat maps on its website (they cannot be seen prior to starting the booking process). The airline provides plenty of written information about cabin configuration but does not mention which toilets are accessible and their location. The airline operates a number of international routes with its A321 aircraft. These aircraft should be fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

 Unlike sister airline Air France, in a bizarre fashion, KLM only allows passengers who have booked a flight to see its seat maps. Although this is entirely negative, it still doesn't make it easy to determine where accessible toilets are without booking a flight first. We were, therefore, unable to determine the location of accessible lavatories and if they are clearly marked on seat maps.

The KLM long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 777-200ER and 777-300ER, 787-9 and 787-10, A330-200 and A330-300. All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

Lufthansa

Like many other airlines, Lufthansa does not provide detailed information about which toilets are accessible and their location in the cabin.

The Lufthansa long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 747-400 (two layouts) and 747-800 (two layouts), A330-300, A340-300 (four layouts), A340-600 (two layouts), and A350-900 (three layouts). All these aircraft are fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

Qantas

It might come as no surprise, but The Australian Flag Carrier has a more robust web presence when it comes to providing accessible toilet information for passengers. Qantas provides details of the toilets that are disabled-friendly and their locations.

The airline has two cabin layouts of the A380-800 aircraft type. Layout 1 has one accessible lavatory fitted at the center of the economy class cabin (main deck) right behind row 63 and a second one on the upper deck right in front of the premium economy cabin (row 24). Layout 2 has one accessible lavatory fitted at the center of the economy class cabin (main deck) right behind row 63 and a second one on the upper deck right in front of the premium economy cabin (row 31).

The Qantas Boeing 787-9 aircraft type is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 43.

The airline A330-300 aircraft type is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 41.

The airline has three cabin layouts of the A330-200 aircraft type. Layout 1 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 39. Layouts 2 and 3 are fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 37.

Qatar Airways

 Except for the A380, all other Qatari flag carrier seat maps will show detailed information about where the disability-friendly lavatory is situated in the aircraft cabin. Accessible lavatories are marked “Lavatory accessible to wheelchair passengers”.

The airline has four cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft type. Layout 354seat has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 6. Layout 358seat boasts three accessible lavatories, the first fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 4, the second at the center of the economy cabin behind row 22, and the third on the right side of the economy cabin behind row 34. Layout 412seat also features three accessible lavatories, the first fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 4, the second at the center of the economy cabin behind row 29, and the third on the right side of the economy cabin behind row 41. Layout 412qseat has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 6.

Qatar Airways has two cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-200LR aircraft type. Layout 276seat has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 4. Layout 272seat has the accessible lavatory fitted on the right-hand side of the business class cabin right behind row 6.

The Boeing 787-9 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 27.

The Boeing 787-8 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 25.

Regrettably, the seat map of Qatar’s A380 does not show where accessible toilets are located. Perhaps an oversight that will soon be corrected.

The A350-1000 features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 29.

The A350-900 (two layouts) features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 29 in both cabin layouts.

One of a kind, the Qatar Airways A330-300 (two layouts) features five accessible toilets. Two at the top of the business class cabin, one on the left side of the business class cabin behind row 5, and two more at the center end of the economy class cabin (behind row 44 or row 45 depending on the cabin layout).

The A330-200 features four accessible lavatories: the first two, one per side, are located between row 4 (business class) and row 10 (economy class). Two more at the center end of the economy class cabin behind row 40.

Singapore Airlines

The flag carrier of the city-state of Singapore is known for its excellent customer service. The airline seat maps have a clear highlighting designating where accessible toilets are located.

SIA has two cabin layouts of the A380-800 aircraft type. Layout 1 has one accessible lavatory fitted at the center of the economy class cabin on the main deck right behind row 57 and a second one on the upper deck at the center of the business class cabin behind row 23. Layout 2 has one accessible lavatory fitted at the center of the economy class cabin on the main deck right in front of row 59 and a second one on the upper deck at the center of the business class cabin behind row 23.

The SIA A350-900 has three layouts. The Long Haul layout features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 45. The Medium Haul layout features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 54. The Ultra Long Range layout features an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 29.

The airline has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft type. The accessible lavatory is located on the right side of the economy cabin behind row 48.

Singapore Air has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 787-10 aircraft type. This plane is fitted with an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 56.

TUI Airways (U.K.)

TUI is a very popular air carrier in the U.K. but persons with disabilities cannot see the airline’s seat maps before booking their flight. This is quite frankly unacceptable in this day and age. When consulting the airline’s website we came across this: “you'll be able to access the seat map immediately after you book your holiday.” We were unable to determine the location of accessible lavatories and if they are clearly marked on seat maps.

The TUI long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 787-8, Boeing 757-200, and Boeing 767-300. All these aircraft should be fitted with at least one accessible toilet.

United Airlines

United Airlines is the only US-based airline mentioned in this article that publishes maps of their aircraft that are accurate down to every lavatory and bathroom that has been designated as accessible.

The airline has four cabin layouts of the Boeing 777-200 aircraft type. Layout V1 features the accessible lavatory fitted on the center of the economy cabin right in front of row 41. Layout V2, V3, and V4 have the accessible lavatory fitted on the center of the economy cabin right in front of row 40.

The carrier has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 777-300ER aircraft type. This plane is fitted with the accessible toilet at the left of the business class cabin behind row 8.

United has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 787-8 aircraft type. This plane is fitted with an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 39.

The airline has two cabin configurations of the Boeing 787-9 aircraft type. Layout V1 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 35. Layout V2 is fitted with the accessible toilet at the left of the business class cabin behind row 5.

United has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 787-10 aircraft type. This plane is fitted with the accessible toilet at the left of the premium plus class cabin in front of row 20.

The airline has two cabin configurations of the Boeing 767-300 aircraft type. Both layouts feature the accessible toilet at the rear end of the economy class cabin.

United has a single cabin configuration of the Boeing 767-400ER aircraft type. This plane is fitted with an accessible toilet at the center of the economy class cabin behind row 27.

Virgin Atlantic

Considering Virgin Atlantic’s reputation of being at the forefront of accessibility in the aviation industry, we were disappointed to find out that none of the seat maps available on the airline’s website indicate which lavatories are accessible and their location in the cabin.

The Virgin Atlantic long-haul fleet comprises Boeing 787-9, A330-300, and A350-1000. All these aircraft are usually fitted with at least one accessible toilet. 

Conclusions 

We are alarmed to find that in 2022, airlines who provide vital information about accessible toilets in the cabin are the minority, with many not providing this information at all.

Perhaps it's worth the paper to remind airlines that being accessible also means giving passengers with disabilities the information they need to have a more pleasant in-flight experience.

 

 

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