Flush with pride: an airport lav is a finalist for America’s Best Restroom.

Best places to go when you have to ‘go’

A clean public restroom can be a rare find when you’re in an airport, a restaurant, a theme park, a highway rest stop, a museum, or a mall.

It can be even more difficult to find a clean public restroom that also has some character, wit, and charm.

That’s why the Stuck at the Airport team of restroom reviewers always pays attention to the list of finalists in the annual America’s Best Restroom contest.

In 2022, Tampa International Airport (TPA) took the throne for a new set of Airside C restrooms featuring high-res images of quintessential Florida flora.

2023 List of Finalists for America’s Best Restroom

There’s also an airport on the list of the 10 finalists for the 2023 America’s Best Restroom Contest: Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI).

New restrooms at BWI feature an entrance with a seating area for travelers to wait for their companions. Inside, the restrooms have bright, spacious, fully enclosed stalls for privacy, touchless fixtures and individual lactation, adult changing, and family assist rooms.

Here is a list of the other 9 public restrooms in the running for the 2023 America’s Best Restroom Contest.

Be sure to vote for your favorite by August 11.

Clear Lake and Des Moines River Safety Rest Areas in Jackson, Minnesota

Drusie & Darr, Nashville, TennesseeRestaurant

El Rio, San Francisco, California – Bar

Frying Pan, New York, New York – Lightship

Hell ‘n Blazes Brewing Company, Melbourne, Florida

Juban’s Creole Restaurant, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Little America Hotel, Salt Lake City, Utah

Rabbit Hole, Greenville, South Carolina – Bar

Snowbasin Ski Resort, Huntsville, Utah

Travel was a zoo at San Antonio Int’l Airport

It can be crowded and stressful at the airport on the first day of a busy holiday weekend.

But on Friday, at the start of the July 4th weekend, it was a zoo at San Antonio International Airport (SAT).

Not because of the people. But because of the animals.

As part of SAT’s “Summer of Fun,” Zoomagination, an animal advocate program, brought a boa constrictor, an opossum, a parrot, and two sloths to the airport for animal encounters with travelers.

Why two sloths? Sloths sleep 18-20 hours a day, so when Snooze the Sloth needed a nap, Yogi took over.

(Photos courtesy SAT Airport)

Virgin Australia Picks Up Its 1st Boeing 737-8

Virgin Australia First 737-8 Delivery Event Seattle – Courtesy Boeing

A team from Virgin Australia was in Seattle this week to take delivery of the carrier’s first Boeing 737-8 aircraft.

Picking up a new plane is a big deal anytime. But this is the first of 33 MAX family aircraft the carrier plans to take delivery of over the next five years. The order includes eight 737-8s and twenty-five 737-10s.

This first 737-8 For Virgin Australia is registered as VH-8IA and is named Monkey Mia.

The name is in line with Virgin Australia’s tradition of naming its aircraft after Australian bodies of water. And Monkey Mia is in the Shark Bay region of Western Australia, which became Western Australia’s first World Heritage-listed site in 1991.

The plane is flying from Seattle to Brisbane, Australia with a stopover in Hawaii and leaves Seattle with a fuel load that includes 30 percent Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF).

“These new aircraft will allow us to grow capacity and support more efficient jet services,” said Virgin Australia Chief Operations Officer Stuart Aggs. He noted that these MAX aircraft are a critical part of the airline’s decarbonization plans and “will reduce emissions by at least 15 percent per flight compared to the 737-800 NG fleet, supporting our commitment to targeting net zero emissions by 2050.”

In addition to being fuel efficient, the 737-8 is approximately 40 percent quieter than Virgin Australia’s current 737-800 NG fleet and has the airline’s new generation seats, which include device holders and in-seat power.

On a tour of Boeing’s 737 plant in Renton, WA, the Virgin Australia team was able to see the unique “hay loader” system Boeing uses to deliver new airline seats from the factory floor onto planes.

Travel Tidbits

PIT Airport Welcomes Former Tuskegee Airman

In 2013, Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT) installed an exhibit on Concourse A to tell the story of the Tuskegee Airmen, the first African-American U. S. military aviation unit.

While honoring all the Tuskegee Airmen who served in World War II, the exhibit has a special meaning for Western Pennsylvania. Because it turns out more Tuskegee airmen hail from that part of the US than from any other region.

This week, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, retired Lt. Col. James Harvey, had a chance to visit the PIT exhibit.

99-year-old Harvey is a former fighter pilot and the U.S. military’s first Black fighter pilot to fly missions over Korean airspace. He was traveling through the airport with his family and other military dignitaries on his way home after serving as grand marshal of Pittsburgh’s Juneteenth parade.

(Photos courtesy PIT Airport)

Alaska Airlines Offers a Deal on CLEAR

If you’ve been thinking of joining the CLEAR program to expedite your trip through airport security, Alaska Airlines and CLEAR are offering discount pricing and bonus miles on CLEAR Plus membership for Mileage Plan members.

All Mileage Plan members can enroll in CLEAR Plus for $179 a year (a $10 discount).

Elite Mileage Plan members – MVP, MVP Gold, MVP Gold 75K, and MVP Gold 100K – who enroll in a new CLEAR Plus membership will receive 1,500 miles.

Elite Mileage Plan members who renew their CLEAR Plus membership will receive 1,250 miles every year upon renewal. And through July 16, 2023, all Mileage Plan members who enroll in CLEAR Plus for the first time will receive an additional 1,000 Mileage Plan miles. 

See Route 66 photos at Phoenix Sky Harbor Int’l Airport

(Photo by Terrence Moore)

It’s road trip season. And Route 66 – the Mother Road – running from Chicago to Los Angeles, is the iconic and most historic road trip highway.

First opened in 1926, Route 66 later took a back seat to interstate and superhighways that provided a faster and more efficient way to get from here to there.

But the historic road still calls to people like Tucson photographer Terrence Moore, who first traveled Route 66 when he was nine years old when his family was moving from Minnesota to California.

A new exhibition at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX), hosted by the Phoenix Airport Museum, presents Moore’s images from his many travels along this classic highway as a professional photographer for more than 50 years.

Stories from the Mother Road” includes photographs of curio shops, vintage motels, neon signs, and quirky roadside attractions from a bygone era on Route 66.

“Much of my life was formed by the open road; which includes Route 66 as well as many other U.S. highways that all inspire adventure,” said Moore. “The feeling of rolling down the highway brings excitement, curiosity, and discovery that I am itching to share through my pictures.”

PHX visitors don’t need a plane ticket to view the exhibition, which is located pre-security in Phoenix Sky Harbor’s Terminal 4, level 3 through April 2024.

Better yet: snap a photo with the large-scale cutout image of a 1941 Ford Super Deluxe Woody Station Wagon, share it with the Phoenix Airport Museum (Airport.Museum@phoenix.gov), and receive a gift.