You may have seen headlines this morning that United will now allow economy class passengers to use first class lavatories onboard. While true, the new United Airlines lavatory policy is temporary and not without limits.
United Airlines Updates Lavatory Usage Policy
Starting November 1, 2020, you’ll hear a slight change to the lavatory announcement when you fly on United:
“Please use the restroom located in your cabin when possible.”
In consultation with the Cleveland Clinic, United notes this will provide “more flexibility by allowing customers to use lavatories in a cabin of service other than their own to reduce lavatory lines and prevent crowding in the aisle.”
But I would not mark this as a permanent. Live and Let’s Fly reviewed the memo flight attendants received, which is entitled, “Temporary update to lavatory usage policy.”
It notes that economy class passengers do not have carte blanche authority to use lavatories in the forward cabin. Instead it notes examples where passengers can use lavatories outside their cabin:
- There’s a line for the lavatory in economy and a lavatory in the premium cabin is open
- The service cart is in the aisle blocking a customer from the lavatory in their cabin
- A customer is sitting close to the lavatory outside of their cabin
- As a reminder, if a customer has a special need (e.g., a disability, medical condition, elderly, a minor or pregnant) they can use any lavatory regardless of the ticketed cabin
Thus, the policy is not intended for passengers in row 48 to go up to row one to take care of business. Practically, though, it is unlikely flight attendants will be in the policing business during the pandemic.
Curtains between cabin have not been in use during the pandemic and this policy is not unreasonable. While access to a lavatory with less foot traffic is (and should remain) a great benefit of premium cabin travel, I certainly think passengers should use the lavatory accessible to them if a drink cart is in the aisle.
What are your thoughts on the United Airlines lavatory policy?