House bill would prevent airlines from charging fees for bathrooms

House bill would prevent airlines from charging fees for bathrooms
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A House Democrat has filed a bill to prevent airlines from charging passengers for the use of bathrooms on planes. 

The measure, from Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.), would prohibit airlines from adding bathroom fees to the à la carte charges that have become popular in the aviation industry in recent years.

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Lipinski's bill, known as the Comfortable and Fair Flights Act of 2015, would also allow passengers to change flights for free if bathrooms on their scheduled flights are out of order, and require airlines to issue refunds for bag fees if luggage is delayed by two or more than hours. 

The Illionis Democrat said the protections are necessary because airlines have greatly increased the number of fees they charge for services that used to be free, such as food and baggage.  

"More and more, when airline passengers get on a flight they expect to suffer from uncomfortable conditions; as a frequent flyer I understand this,” Lipinski said in a statement.  

“One thing they should never have to worry about is access to a bathroom," he continued. "Unfortunately, commercial flights are not required to depart with a functioning bathroom, sometimes forcing passengers to endure a trip without this basic necessity. Moreover, as ancillary fees continue to grow, the specter of an in-flight bathroom fee continues to loom in the background since first being broached in 2010." 

Irish low-cost airline Ryanair considering charging passengers to access bathrooms on their flights in 2010, according to media reports at the time. The company also reportedly considered reducing the number of toilets that were installed on its planes. 

The plans were later dropped amid opposition from passenger advocacy groups, but Lipinski said Wednesday travelers should have a right to restrooms when they fly. 

He added that the baggage fee protections in his measure were also necessary to "ensure that airline passengers have some basic rights and protections when traveling on commercial airlines.

"Many of us are all too familiar with paying baggage fees and have come to accept them as part of the flying experience," he said. "While lost and delayed baggage rates are declining, passengers who suffer from this inconvenience do so without the right to a refund, even after hours or days of delay. Simply put, if you pay for a service, you should get that service promptly or get your money back.”