My “At the Airport” column in USA TODAY this month is all about airport bathrooms and celebrates the fact that Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport took first place this year in the annual contest to choose America’s best public restroom.
The last time there was news about the stalls at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport was in 2007 and the story centered about a senator and a sex sting.
But now MSP and its loos will get more respect.
The first batch of airport’s updated restrooms was named the 2016 winners in the 15th annual America’s Best Restroom Contest.
Hosted by Cintas, a Cincinnati-based company that cleans and provides supplies for public restrooms, the contest lets the public pick the winner from a set of 10 finalists and this MSP’s lavs were pitted against the likes of a Dr. Who-themed Tardis bathroom at a bar in Brooklyn, N.Y., a bookstore in St. Louis where the bathrooms are papered in classic books, and the restrooms at a Coca-Cola Park in Allentown, PA, (home of the AAA Lehigh Valley IronPigs) which feature a hands-free, motion-control urinal gaming system. (Scores get posted!)
The restrooms MSP entered in the contest are part of a terminal-wide restroom renovation plan that started in 2009 and will continue through 2025 and encompass more than 100 sets of public restrooms throughout the airport.
In addition to overhauling each restroom to stalls with out-swinging doors and niches for rolling luggage, baby changing stations and shallow trough sinks that minimize splashing, MSP created “restroom zones” throughout the airport.
Each zone has out-the-way where travel companions can wait and amenities such as flight information boards, AEDs and others emergency devices, water-bottle refill stations and curated art display cases.
Mosaic art with a Minnesota theme marks the entrance to each restroom, with each set created by a different regional artist.
This isn’t the first time airport thrones have been in the running for the Best Restroom Contest crown.
Tampa International Airport’s renovated restrooms were among the finalists in 2013, losing out to the Varsity Theater in Minneapolis.
And back in 2005, the loos at Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas took first prize.
(Read the full column – and see more photos here.)