Advancing disability rights and leadership globally®

Toilet Tips for Airplanes

Travelers push carts full of luggage through an airport terminal
Travelers push carts full of luggage through an airport terminal

Minimize bathroom woes during a long international flight.

When traveling on international flights, people with mobility disabilities have to figure out how to find relief. This starts when booking the ticket.

  • Book shorter segment flights and take bathroom breaks between flights, as accessible toilets are widely available throughout most airports. Make sure layovers provide enough time to use the bathroom.
  • Request an aisle chair for flights on single-aisle airplanes. Single-aisle planes with more than sixty seats can have aisle chairs onboard as long as they are requested at least 48 hours in advance. When booking flights, ask about aisle chair availability.
  • Book flights on double-aisle planes, which have accessible restrooms. These kinds of planes are common for long distance flights.
  • Check the seating layout of the plane using a website like Seat Guru. Consider requesting aisle seats near the bathrooms, which are typically at the back of the aircraft, or request permission to use the bathrooms in business or first class at the front of the aircraft.
  • Research your layover airports for accessible bathrooms in case of delayed or canceled flights.

Taking Medications and Toiletries Onboard

  • Liquid toiletries must be in 3.4 ounce or 100ml (travel size) containers and packed together in a one quart plastic baggie to be allowed in carry-on luggage (check for any changes in rules).
  • TSA allows an exception to the 3.4 ounce rule for medically necessary liquids. See Related Links for more information.
  • Liquid prescription medicine can be taken onboard as long as the name on the prescription matches the passenger’s ticket.
  • Passengers needing over the counter items such as lubricants for catheterizing, liquid nutritional supplements and similar items while in flight should obtain a doctor’s note. Be prepared to have all such items thoroughly inspected and to answer questions regarding their use.

Boarding and While Onboard

  • Avoid caffeine, alcohol and soft drinks to prevent frequent trips to the bathroom.
  • Consider limiting fluids before a flight. Travelers choosing this option should use caution to avoid dehydration, and be sure to re-hydrate upon arrival at the destination.
  • Double-check aisle chair availability with airline staff at the gate.
  • Give flight attendants advance notice of accessibility needs. Airline personnel can assist passengers to the aisle chair during the flight but are not required to assist with going to the bathroom.
  • Avoid scheduling bathroom visits during meals and coffee breaks, as aisles are obstructed during this time.
  • Some planes include curtained off areas if the bathroom door is too narrow to be accessible.

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