In late April American flight 3215 operated by an Embraer E140 regional jet from Westchester, New York to Chicago O’Hare flew without a working lavatory.
“The captain was apologetic, and furious, when he told the passengers that American couldn’t get maintenance to come out and fix the toilet,” said the passenger, whom the Tribune did not identify on her request. “The pilot said he wanted to wait, but they (the airline) told him to leave now or they would cancel the flight,” the passenger added.
It turns out that the FAA requires lavatory access within two hours of a ground delay and to meet the needs of disabled passengers on widebodies. Beyond that operating without functional lavatories is at the discretion of the airline.
In this case American viewed the options as:
- Cancelling the flight and ferrying it to O’Hare for maintenance
- Allowing passengers to fly as-planned without a lavatory, and with advance warning.
It seems to me the choice should have been offered for passengers to be treated as though they were involuntarily denied boarding.
One passenger probably shouldn’t have made the trip:
“I felt so badly for this one man,” she said. “I saw him when we landed. He rushed off toward the bathroom at the back (of the plane). He said, ‘I am incontinent. I was going to change (undergarments) and I couldn’t.'”
Would you take a 2.5 hour flight with no working lavatory? How long is too long?