BWI Airport’s loo is America’s Best Restroom

It’s safe to say they’re bowled over in Baltimore today to learn that Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is the winner of the 2023 America’s Best Restroom Contest.

BWI’s winning loos are part of a $55 million airport renovation program that includes expanded and improved restrooms on concourses B, C, and D.

Bright and spacious, BWI’s upgraded bathrooms have windows that provide both natural light and privacy.

The new restrooms also have features such as touchless fixtures, full-height stalls and doors, extra space for stowing roller bags, super-helpful red light/green light occupancy indicators for the stalls, and sensors that alert the airport’s custodial staff when supplies need to be refilled.

There are even seating areas where travelers may wait for their companions.

“We’re honored to be recognized by Cintas and contest voters for our commitment to providing a positive passenger experience and outstanding facilities,” said Ricky Smith, Executive Director/CEO of BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport. “Passengers rank restrooms as an airport’s number one amenity. That’s why we work so hard to provide creative, clean, and inviting restrooms to make travel more enjoyable.”

BWI’s restrooms won out this year over a strong list of nationwide public restroom contenders that include clean and charming examples located in a dive bar, a hotel, a public rest area, restaurants, a craft brewery, a ski resort, and a lightship.

Here’s the list of the other finalists for this year:

•             Clear Lake and Des Moines River Safety Rest Areas (Jackson, Minnesota)

•             Drusie & Darr (Nashville, Tennessee)

•             El Rio (San Francisco, California)

•             Frying Pan (New York, New York)

•             Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company (Melbourne, Florida)

•             Juban’s Creole Restaurant (Baton Rouge, Louisiana)

•             Little America (Salt Lake City, Utah)

•             Rabbit Hole (Greenville, South Carolina)

•             Snowbasin Resort (Huntsville, Utah)

As the winner of this year’s Cintas-sponsored America’s Best Restroom contest, BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport gets $2,500 in Cintas products and services to help maintain its award-winning restrooms.

The airport’s restrooms will also have a seat of honor in the America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame.

This isn’t the first time an airport has ascended to the throne in this contest.

Last year Tampa International Airport (TPA) took top honors for its first set of renovated restrooms featuring large Florida-themed graphics and a wide range of convenient features.

Another Airport Improves its Loos

Cool New Loos at BWI Marshall Airport (BWI)

In addition to quick-moving security lines, and tasty things to eat and drink, clean restrooms with short waiting lines top most travelers’ wish lists for airport amenities.

And airports are responding by flushing out old, tired restroom designs and bringing in bathrooms that are bright, high-tech, art-filled, and new.

The latest to do so is Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

Upgraded restrooms were included in a recent Concourse A expansion and there’s an ongoing $55 million program to expand and improve six sets of restrooms on Concourses B, C, and D.

The first set of improved restrooms on Concourse B is now open.

The new set of restrooms now open on Concourse B is nearly 4,700 total square feet, with full-height stalls, space for stowing roller bags, surface materials that are easy to clean and sanitize, and improved ventilation.

The new restrooms also feature innovative technology such as occupancy lights for the stalls and sensors to inform custodial staff when supplies need to be refilled.

Updated Airport Restrooms Win Hearts – and Awards

Airports that give their restrooms modern makeovers not only win kudos from passengers, but some of the new loos also win awards.

In 2022, both Newark Liberty International Airport (EWR) and Tampa International Airport (TPA) made the list of finalists for America’s Best Restroom Contest. And Tampa International Airport took the throne.

Tampa Int’l Airport takes the throne for Best Restroom

Congratulations to Tampa International Airport (TPA), which takes the throne as the Winner of the 2022 America’s Best Restroom Contest. 

The Airport’s sleek, modern, and newly renovated Airside C restrooms were among 10 finalists selected by Cintas Corporation based on cleanliness, visual appeal, innovation, functionality, and unique design elements.

The public had the opportunity to vote during the month of August. And the competition included restrooms at Delaware Botanic Gardens and Newark Liberty International Airport’s (EWR) all-gender restrooms.

TPA’s Airside C facilities were completed on the north side of the terminal earlier this year and will be finished on the south side in the coming weeks.

The restroom entrance welcomes travelers to a uniquely Florida experience. There are large graphics and a natural, deep blue stone with high-res images of quintessential Florida flora.

The loos also feature light-colored solid surface vanities. These counters incorporate TPA’s signature “cockpit” concept that provides guests with their own sensor-activating sink and soap, personal paper towel dispensers, and trash receptacles all within arm’s reach.

As part of its prize, TPA receives Cintas UltraClean restroom cleaning service and $2,500 in Cintas products and services. And in a nice touch, TPA airport will be donating these services and products to the Hurricane Ian recovery efforts taking place in southeast Florida. 

Airports cleaned up in this contest in the past

America’s Best Restroom contest is highly competitive, but some airports have claimed the throne in the past.

Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport (MSP) won in 2016 for the first of 100 sets of restrooms being updated. Among a wide variety of nice amenities, MSP’s upgraded loos feature a waiting area with flight information, emergency devices, and curated art display cases.

And Arkansas’ Fort Smith Regional Airport (FSM) landed the award in 2005, That loo got high marks for cleanliness and for its dried flower arrangements and automated toilets and sinks.

Airport restrooms in the running for top toilet prize

As travelers, we are all too familiar with the search for a clean public restroom. We also know the delight of entering a public bathroom that is not just clean but blessed with quirk and charm.

Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic in full swing, clean and super-sanitized public restrooms are even more important.

So, we are delighted to see restrooms at both Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and the Jamacia Station on JFK International Airport’s AirTrain people mover line are finalists in the 2020 America’s Best Restroom contest. 

Anyone can vote for the winning throne through October 19. The top toilets get a seat in America’s Best Restroom Hall of Fame and restroom cleaning services worth more than $2500 from contest sponsor Cintas.

Here are the finalists:

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport

All gate-side restrooms at DFW Airport are now super ‘smart’.

The bathrooms have touch-free technology and the Tooshlights feature we’ve been raving about that uses red and green lights to indicate which stalls are open.

Digital signage outside each restroom lets passengers know how many stalls are open.

JFK’s AirTrain Jamaica Station – New York, NY

The new restrooms for the Jamaica Station stop on the AirTrain people mover at John F. Kennedy International Airport are nearly three times as large as the previous restrooms. As a nice bonus, the stalls are wide enough to accommodate luggage.

Bancroft Park – Colorado Springs, Colorado

The Bancroft Park restrooms have green, red and yellow lights to show availability. Soap, water, toilet paper, and a dryer are all touchless. Better yet, the restrooms self-clean after every 30 uses and an app lets the maintenance crew know when toilet paper or other supplies are running low.

Gaslight Bar & Grill – Cincinnati, OH

The Gaslight Bar & Grill in Cincinnati, OH is in a building that once served as a branch library. The restrooms have marble tile walls and gold wallpaper as well as touchless faucets and trash cans.

Greeley Square Park – New York, New York

The kiosk-like restroom at Greeley Square Park in NY is decorated with historic photographs and has classical music, rotating seat covers, a full-time attendant, Italian tile, fresh flowers, and an HVAC system for seasonal climate control.

Kimpton Muse Hotel – New York, New York

The Kimpton Muse Hotel restrooms invite guests and diners at the adjacent Muse Bar to pick a stall according to their personality or mood. There are six “sin-inspired” unisex stalls, each with a different theme and design: Glam, Vain, Rebel, Passion, Macho, and Envy.

Portland Japanese Garden – Portland, Oregon

All materials in the restroom at the Portland Japanese Garden – from the texture of the tiles to the design of the fixtures – are chosen for their standalone beauty, as well as functional works of art.

Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts – Scottsdale, Arizona

Standing ovation? These sleek and modern lavs have terrazzo flooring, glass-tiled walls, and plenty of spacious, stainless-steel stalls.

The lighting system can also be programmed for holidays, special events and specific audiences.

Swift’s Attic – Austin, Texas

Swift’s Attic restaurant in Austin has Gothic-style restrooms with floral-patterned sinks, antique light fixtures, and gold and black striped wallpaper.

The Guild Hotel – San Diego, CA

The Guild Hotel opened in 2019 in a century-old building built as a YMCA. Today the restrooms off the lobby have beautiful marble sinks with striking lighting, tiling and mirrors.

Is it time for Boeing’s UV-powered self-cleaning airplane lavatory?

Courtesy Boeing

The possibility of using ultraviolet light to kill the COVID-19 virus has been in the news.

As are the different types of UV light: UVA, UVB and UVC.

And that reminded of us the prototype self-cleaning airplane lavatory the Boeing Company announced back in 2016 that seems very promising.

As described, the self-cleaning lavatory uses a concentrated ultraviolet light (far ultraviolet C) to disinfect all surfaces of an airplane bathroom after each use.

The cleaning of the toilet seat, the sink and the countertops would be completed in just three seconds, safely, while the lavatory was unoccupied.

The system would even lift and close the toilet seat automatically, to ensure that all surfaces are exposed to the light during the cleaning cycle.

Other features of the proposed self-cleaning lavatory include hands-free faucets, soap dispensers, trash flaps, toilet lids and seat and hand dryers, some of which already exist on many airplanes.

At the time, we loved the idea because airplane lavatories are often so icky and unappealing and so generally germy.

But now that COVID-19 is here and presenting such a horrifying health risk, we like to see the self-cleaning lavatory installed on all airplanes. Wouldn’t you?