After flying between Dallas – Fort Worth and Detroit, a woman took to twitter to share her experience trying to use the first class lavatory as a passenger sitting at the front of the coach cabin. She’s not a frequent flyer, asked a flight attendant where the restroom was, and she says she was told to use the restroom in front.
However when she got there she felt scolded and was sent back to use the coach lavatory. And while she’s black, she reports that white passengers were allowed to use that lavatory without a scolding.
On Saturday July 23, 2022 My husband and I flew on @AmericanAir Flight AAL2753 it was our the first time using them. And we had the worst experience with customer service on the plan with rasial discrimination towards me.The flight attendance Ron P treated me as I was animal 😭😡
— Tina Talbert (@TinaTalbert2) July 26, 2022
So should she have been permitted to use the first class lavatory?
- I suspect race wasn’t a factor. While it’s not clear from her tweets whether the white passengers were seated in first class and used the first class lavatory or seated in coach, it seems they may have just used it while she actually asked where the lavatory was. In asking the question, she got an answer.
- But by American Airlines policy she should have been permitted to use the first class lavatory.
- I believe the correct answer, policy aside, is to use the lavatory in your ticketed cabin if possible; that first class passengers should have priority for the forward lav; that during drink service on a single aisle aircraft passengers blocked from walking back to the lavatory should be able to use the closest lav; and finally that in an emergency you do what you have to do.
American Airlines does not have a policy against coach passengers using the first class lavatory for domestic flights, or for flights departing the U.S. of course in the moment ignoring crewmember instructions not to leave your ticketed cabin isn’t likely to end well even when that order is contrary to company policy.
For instance United relaxed its ‘ticketed cabin only’ lavatory policy during the pandemic to promote social distancing and yet its social media team cited outdated policy to back up crew when a customer complained last year.
If you’re going to ask permission to use the first class lavatory as a coach passenger, don’t be surprised if you’re told to use the lavs in back. It’s often better to ask forgiveness than it is to ask permission!
And this is just like the question of whether to use the lavatory while the seat belt sign is still on – a flight attendant will tell you the seat belt sign is on, many will interpret that as a no, when in fact it just means the crewmember can’t tell you that it is ok but generally isn’t going to stop you.