Bathrooms

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?

Atlanta Int’l Airport testing restroom stop/go lights

Los Angeles Internationl Airport has some ‘smart’ restrooms, now Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL) has some too.

As part of its $6 billion modernization program, ATL is testing technology to improve the restroom ‘experience’.

Two pairs of restrooms (at Delta’s Gates B18 & B23), now feature  Tooshlights – a system that works like modern parking lots to light red or green lights (in use/empty) over stalls – and Infax, a system that tracks restroom usage so janitorial staff knows when the space needs to be cleaned.

Anyone who has ever waited on line in an airport restroom waiting for an empty stall – and anyone who has been in a stall and had someone rattle the door to see if it’s open – will appreaciate the red light/green light system, especially when rushing between flights.

 

Travel Tidbits from Denver and Los Angeles airports

Ending the week with some travel tidbits from airports for you.

Were you hoping that Norbert the Turtle really was joining the pet therapy program at Denver International Airport? That turned out to be an April Fool’s Day joke, but DEN did add their 101st member to their team.

Not a joke was the announcement that Los Angeles International Airport had installed Tooshlights in one set of bathrooms in the American Airlines Terminal 4 to guide lav users – via overhead red and green lights – to stalls that are open.

LAX also announced that $4.9 billion contract had been approved by the Los World Airports (LAWA) Board of Airport Commissioners (BOAC) to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the Automated People Mover (APM) system at the airport.

The system promises driverless trains that will arrive at every station every two minutes, and light-filled stations with escalators, elevators, and moving walkways. Bonus amenities include a viewing platform of the iconic Theme Building.

When will we be able to take the train to LAX? Sometime in 2023.

Passenger-friendly innovations in skies now – and on the horizon

(Airbus_A320 Family Airspace interior. Courtesy Airbus)

For CNBC this week, I put together some of the most passenger-friendly, or unusual, finalists vying for this year’s Crystal Cabin Awards, which are set to be announced April 10 and often described as “the Oscars of the aviation industry.”

One of the more unusual and intriuging ideas on the list is something called a ‘Durinal,’ by Zodia Aerospace.

 

 

You know how it is: after meals and just before landing, bathroom lines get long and the lav-to-passenger ratio in the economy cabin on airplanes just seems wrong. Worse, when lavs get busy, there’s that wet floor issue that comes courtesy of the male ‘splash zone.’

The Durinal is designed to solve both problems by replacing one regular lavatory with two urinals. Durinal creator Zodiac Aerospace says installing the toilets on planes can improve lavatory “cycle time” and cut down on male use of the conventional toilets, “Thus leaving them more hygienic for the ladies.”

 

 

 

On flights that aren’t full, Zodiac Aerospace’s new Eco Zlounge concept makes it possible for passengers to stretch out with a mechanism that allows the cushion part of the seat in front of a passenger to fold down, creating more leg room.

No doubt the extra space will come with an extra cost, but on long flights passengers may be willing to pay that cost.

See more finalists in my CNBC story, here.