A viral TikTok video from plus-size model BoBerry highlights the need for accessible bathrooms on airplanes — not only for wheelchair users, but for larger travelers as well.

BoBerry opens the video by pointing out that, due to her body size, she requires the space of two economy class seats and is unable to fit in business class. Despite the challenges with accessible seating, she states that “accessibility to a bathroom is the number one road block for me when it comes to long distance travel.”

While researching potential solutions for using the bathroom inflight, BoBerry discovered my article on larger wheelchair accessible lavatories on airplanes. Using the information contained in that article, she knew what to look for and found a United Airlines flight to Spain operated by a wide-body Boeing 777-300ER aircraft.

Larger accessible lavatory on United Airlines Boeing 777.

The Boeing 777 aircraft operated by United Airlines features a lavatory that met BoBerry’s needs, and she was able to fly confidently knowing that there was a larger, more accessible bathroom available for her use.

If you think airplane lavatories are getting smaller, you’re not wrong. In 2018, the Los Angeles Times reported the words of Jimmy Walton, an American Airlines pilot. Speaking to Robert Isom (the company’s former President and now CEO), Walton referred to the slimmed-down lavatories on narrow-body aircraft as “the most miserable experience in the world.” He noted that the airline had “added 12 more seats, no more lavatories, and you’ve shrunk that lavatory to 75% of what it was before.” The impact of that change, he said, is that “I can’t turn around in it.”

John seated on an aisle chair inside a standard sized lavatory.

Having flown on American’s narrow-body aircraft hundreds of times, I can confirm that the slimline lavatories are tiny — it’s certainly too small for disabled passengers to use effectively and likely poses a significant challenge to anyone who is even a pound or two overweight.

Denying human beings access to the bathroom is a human rights violation — airlines have a responsibility to provide equal access to toilet facilities on every aircraft operating long-distance flights. We must advocate for a wheelchair space on the airplane and an ADA compliant bathroom facility accessible to wheelchair users, plus-size travelers, parents with children, and any passenger with an accessibility need.

Accessibility benefits us all and should be non-negotiable. When we prioritize access, we open the world to so many more people — people like you and me, and also travelers like BoBerry. Equal Access Everywhere is our fight.

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