Sardine seating may not be the biggest concern with the design of American Airlines new 737-MAX aircraft (perhaps it should be called the 737-MIN?). It may be its mini-bathrooms.
Even flight attendants are complaining about the cramped lavatories, which are designed for long-range, low-cost operation.
Airline personnel reportedly told CEO Doug Parker that the sinks in the restrooms are so small that passengers can only wash one hand at a time, and that water splashes everywhere when the sinks are used.
The CEO’s reply? “I have not been on the MAX.”
“Tell me what the issue is again, it’s the bathrooms?” he asked, as if this was all new to him.
What he may have meant is: “A bathroom doesn’t generate revenue.”
Cutting corners at the expense of passenger comfort to increase the profit margins
These flying toilets as so small that some passengers have commented you can’t turn around but have to back into them to do some forms of your “activities.”
AA, of course, isn’t the only one making an art form out of squeezing passenger space. United has reduced the width of the seat on the 777-300 economy from 18 to 17 inches to jam another seat in every row. They also reduced the aisle so if you are in an aisle seat you’re going to be sideswiped every time someone passes.
“Now the lavatory shrinkage has reached crisis proportions – in addition to the airline seats,” said Paul Hudson, president of FlyersRights.org.
A ‘fur’ocious new policy
In an effort to reduce scuffles and horseplay by dogs and other critters that airlines are mandated by law to allow onboard, Delta has now taken the bull by the horns and will require anyone bringing a support or service animal to show proof 48 hours prior to departure that it has been certified as an assistance animal.
Delta says that the new rules are being introduced due to lack of regulation, which “has led to serious safety risks involving untrained animals in flight.”
In fact, Delta says that since 2015 it has seen a 150% increase in the number of service and support animals it has transported.
Not only have support animals become more frequent flyers, but Delta says that there’s been an 84% increase in the number of reported incidents on board, such as urination/defecation, biting and attacks.
No other airlines have copied Delta’s policy
The question for Delta’s competitors – why the crickets? You match each other’s fares and fees within milliseconds – but are silent about this new policy. Why?
Forbes points out that businesses are in a highly litigious and PC era where it takes courage to do the obvious right thing even when it might be inferred in a way that could land you in the headlines or on cable news – so it’s safer to keep on angering the majority of your customers.
It requires airlines to allow emotional-service animals onboard with their owners who claim a need – and who can produce documentation supporting it.
But the DOT opened a can of worms when it didn’t outline standards for a person to receive such a diagnosis, or what kinds of training and certification such an animal must have. It was a law inviting abuse.
While the DOT did not foresee the abuse with bogus online certificates, they recognized the potential for abuse of simply claiming the need for an Emotional Support Animal (ESA).
The DOT’s solution was allowing an airline to require a certificate (14 CFR 382.117), and requiring it up to 48 hours in advance (14 CFR 382.27).
Although, Delta might want to avoid publicizing the loophole that if a passenger fails to provide this 48 hours’ notice, the airline still has to allow a properly certified ESA on the flight with “reasonable efforts, without delaying the flight.”
In 2017, Delta employees reported increased acts of aggression (barking, growling, lunging and biting) from service and support animals, behavior not typically seen in these animals when properly trained and working, the airline contends.
Until now the airlines were too chicken to stop such abuse, because refusing to carry a passenger with a “certified” service or support animal is a violation of the Air Carrier Access Act, which carries a fine of up to $150,000 per incident.
Flyers Rights Comment:
This shows what happens when the government defaults on issuing reasonable standards to stop abuses or correct mistakes in existing regulations: The abuses get worse, and then private regulation tries to deal with the problem.
FlyersRights.org sat in on the main meetings in 2016 by the DOT-appointed committee. There was a division between those who favored allowing only dogs trained as service animals and those who favored no such requirements.
There was also a division over passengers with traditional physical disabilities and those with unobservable mental conditions. There was no representation of those with animal allergies or phobias. This DOT experiment with negotiated rulemaking failed to reach a consensus and the DOT then failed to initiate its own rulemaking or take any action.
The airlines are also partially responsible for the problem because they have failed to provide reasonably priced, humane and convenient accommodations for pets in cargo or special areas. Instead they have allowed small animals to be in carriers that fit under seats.
Emotional support certificates allow anyone who satisfactorily completes an online questionnaire and a brief phone conversation with a mental health professional to bring nearly any animal into the passenger cabin.
No regulation is going to please or satisfy everyone. But this new rule will allow Delta to serve its millions of regular passengers with the respect that has been lacking for far too long.
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