During a recent trip, I experienced the ongoing airport accessible bathroom stall conundrum. What’s that? It is the use of the accessible stalls by non-disabled people who are dragging luggage around with them.
I get it, I really do. Since 9/11 there are no airport lockers in which one can store luggage conveniently for even short periods of time, let alone during a three hour layover or a seemingly endless delay due to mechanical failures or stormy weather in Atlanta. The only option is to take the luggage to the bathroom with you and most stalls are too small to accommodate both person and rolling suitcase. That means the only option is to use one of the few larger, accessible stalls generally accepted to be for use by people who have disabilities.
So, you look around and, seeing no person with a disability nearby, you duck into the accessible stall and do what needs to be done. That’s fair enough to my way of thinking.
The problem comes when said luggage-encumbered individual ignores the presence of people who have disabilities and need the accessible stall for its extra room, toilet height, grab bars facilitating transfer from wheelchair to commode or something else entirely.
Are the bathrooms “first come first served” at all stalls and everyone simply waits until the twelve people ahead get the job done? Or should accessible stalls be reserved for the people who really need them and for whom all other stalls are inaccessible?
Maybe in the future all bathroom stalls will be made a little larger so luggage fits in there, too.