Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport

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.

Stuck at the Airport? Work out at the gym.

Want a workout space at the airport?

Yoga rooms and mileage-measured walking paths at a handful of US airports offer travelers a way to get some exercise before or between flights.

But for those who want to squeeze in a workout in a gym without leaving the secure side of the airport, ROAM Fitness’s gym at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) has been the only option.

The BWI branch opened in 2017 next to Gate D1 and offers cardio equipment, dumbells, and other workout equipment as well power equipped lockers (for charging your gear), reservable showers, and rental gear. Current hours are Sunday to Friday, 6 am to 6 pm.

Now ROAM Fitness has opened a second location. This one is located post-security in Terminal F at Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). Hours are 7 am to 7 pm, daily.

This location has all the amenities offered by the BWI location, plus a reservable single-occupant infrared sauna with red light therapy.

Day passes, which are good at both locations, are $25. You can also get 3 passes for $65, 5 for $100, or pay $35/month for an annual membership.

A visit includes access to the gym and all the equipment, a reservable 15-minute shower slot, and complimentary workout gear rental. You can buy workout gear or use your own and ROAM Fitness will vacuum-seal your sweaty clothes so they don’t stink up the clean clothes in your suitcase.

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

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.

TSA’s first airport checkpoint turns 20

Then: the first TSA Checkpoint was a BWI. Photo courtesy TSA

It feels as if the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has always been in charge of security at airports.

But TSA was created in November 2001, in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.

And, beginning on April 30, 2002, Baltimore/Washington Thurgood Marshall International Airport (BWI) became the very first airport in the nation to be ‘federalized.’ It became the first airport to have security screening taken over by the newly formed agency.

BWI and TSA officials marked that anniversary on Friday at the airport and shared background on what was happening at the time.

“The ‘TSA Start-Up Team’ at BWI built a ‘War Room’ on the lower level of C Concourse and began testing new screening methods, checkpoint designs, standard operating procedures, and more,” TSA said in a statement. “The team’s main tasks were to establish the new agency and its security mission and write policies and procedures that adhered to the requirements of the law that created TSA. They were to build a fully federalized workforce of security screening officers to replace private contract screeners.”

Many of the early Transportation Security Officers trained at BWI before they were deployed across the country.

Today there are 430 federalized airports and 64,000 TSA employees nationwide.

TSA Checkpoint at BWI now. Photos courtesy TSA