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Are Airport Bathrooms Really Getting Better?

Are Airport Bathrooms Really Getting Better?
Sharon Hsu

A recent survey of passenger satisfaction with airport facilities listed cleanliness and efficiency of restrooms as a top concern for most travelers. Several airports around the United States have turned to technology within the last year for help with keeping their bathroom stalls clean and lines moving.

If you are like most passengers surveyed by the Aiports Council International in a recent study on traveler satisfaction, clean and efficient terminal bathrooms matter to you. A lot. The organization published a report earlier this year that rated terminal cleanliness and restroom cleanliness as being more important to overall passenger satisfaction than any other aspect of airport infrastructure.

Jason Clampet, founder of Skift, a travel research company, tells the New York Times he isn’t surprised by these findings. “Bathrooms are the first sign if an airport is run well. I’ve never been to a well-operated airport that has dirty bathrooms, and anything that an airport can do to prevent bad bathrooms encounters is great for fliers.”

Seven airports in the United States have taken note, turning to the TRAX SmartRestroom software system to help them keep lines moving and stalls clean in their terminal bathrooms. The software was developed in a joint collaboration between Infax, Avius, and Tooshlight, and it is customizable depending on an airport’s needs.

How do the features work?

For one, SmartRestroom can track how many people enter and exit a bathroom, and then send an alert to custodial services for cleaning once that number has reached a certain threshold. The system also makes it easy to see which stalls are occupied, using red or green lights on stall doors to indicate availability and thus cutting down on wait times. There is also a feature for immediate passenger feedback that allows travelers to rate the bathroom as “exceptional,” “average,” or “poor.” When the third option is chosen, the passenger is immediately prompted to select one of six reasons for the rating, and that information is then sent to custodial services to be addressed.

With time, metadata captured by such technology could be used for larger purposes than alerting janitors about messy bathrooms. For example, data about which bathrooms get the most traffic could be useful when designing terminals or assigning gates in order to create better flow of traffic.

Even if they do not capitalize on those uses, it is clear that airports are getting the memo that passengers want cleaner bathrooms. The New York Times reports that multiple airports are looking to integrate or expand their use of restroom technology in the coming months.


Image: Flickr

View Comments (5)


  1. Dror

    October 10, 2018 at 7:15 am

    In First? Not if there’s a Business cabin on that flight.
    In Business? Yes, but could we please have the airlines set some specific “kids-zone” in the cabin? This could also work for Economy, and parents should not be able to book with an infant if there is no more availability in said zone. Also, what about not handing out free tickets for infants <2 yrs old? This alone would go a long way towards solving this problem.

  2. sdsearch

    October 10, 2018 at 12:35 pm

    Dror, it looks you posted your comment to the wrong article. This article is about airport bathrooms, not anything on planes. First and Business don’t apply to airport bahtrooms!

  3. Throw Down Your Leavy Screens

    October 11, 2018 at 4:15 am

    The signage shown in the picture is from CLT. Does anyone know if this was just a stock photo used for illustration, or if CLT is one of the 7 airports alluded-to? (CLT has been renovating its bathrooms and other spaces in the terminal so it’s plausible.)

  4. c502cid

    October 11, 2018 at 7:54 am

    How about smarter designs on where to place restrooms first? Anyone go to SFO 60 gates? One set of restrooms at the entrance to the terminal. Thats it.. Have to walk the full length of the terminal if you happen to want to go….

  5. Giantbird

    October 11, 2018 at 8:35 am

    Universal problems with airport bathrooms are.
    1. Not enough cubicles in the men’s near the gates. Prior to a flight there are a higher number of men wanting to use the cubical compared to urinal. Boarding, taxi and climb can be a long time to delay a number 2. Airports seem to be clueless or do not care about the long lines waiting for a cubical near the gates and the next nearest toilet is likely to be at least 10 minute walk each way.
    2. The other common problem is cubicles so small that you cannot close the door with a backpack on without putting your face in the bowl. Airports can provide hectares for shops but not a few extra centimeters for a comfortable toilet cubicle.

    Airport toilets are not free. As passengers we pay a hefty fee added to our airfare to use the terminal. We are entitled to expect the toilets to be plentiful and spacious. Instead for our money we get to weave our way through duty free stands and walk unnecessary kilometers through shopping malls.

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