The Dallas Morning News
Flush with high-tech, bathrooms in it to win it
Stall lights, toilet paper trackers and more put restrooms in contest finals
Stall lights and digital soap tracking could make the restrooms at DFW International Airport the best in the nation.
DFW’S restrooms are one of 10 finalists for the nation’s best in a yearly competition sponsored by industrial supply company Cintas. The annual contest also includes zenlike abodes at Portland’s Japanese Garden and a swanky bathroom at a restaurant in Austin.
DFW Airport was tabbed after a yearslong effort to improve customer satisfaction with airport restrooms, including hightech features to make them easier to use, wellstocked and available for passengers.
It’s a tall order for DFW, the world’s fourthlargest airport with 137 bathrooms, including 46 men’s restrooms, 46 women’s bathrooms, 40 family/assisted care restrooms and five nursing rooms.
“The DFW Airport integrated smart restroom technology into all of its gateside restrooms to include aesthetically pleasing fixtures, touchfree dispensing, consumable tracking, and other smart restroom features, allowing staff to operate on demand, rather than a timescheduled approach for making sure the bathrooms are cleaned and wellstocked,” Cintas wrote in the bestbath
rooms finalist announcement.
DFW spent $3.2 million last year on smart sensors that show which stalls are open. It also has invested in trackers on toilet paper, soap, paper towels and other consumables that indicate when products are running low, instead of simply relying on a cleaning schedule.
DFW has a unique challenge because restrooms tend to get heavy usage in waves, particularly when flights land and hundreds of wellwatered passengers exit a plane after hours in the air.
The restrooms also feature stall latch sensors, digital screens at the entrances to show the number of open stalls and screens throughout the airport to show which nearby bathrooms are being cleaned.
There are now over 4,900 dispensers throughout the airport bathrooms to make the process easier when nature calls.
The 2019 winner was the Nashville Zoo and its glass wall that shows the habitat of a family of six cottontop tamarins, and the 2017 winner was the Odysea Aquarium in Scottsdale, Ariz., and its view into a real shark tank.
Airports have taken home the top prize before, including the ritzy toilets at Fort Smith Regional Airport in Arkansas and the luxurious restrooms at Minneapolisst. Paul International Airport.
The Bucee’s gas station and convenience store in New Braunfels won the award in 2012, putting it in the restroom hall of fame. The Texasfounded chain heavily markets its plentiful and clean bathrooms to travelers.
This year’s other finalists also include Airtran’s JFK Jamaica Station in New York, Bancroft Park in Colorado Springs, Gaslight Bar & Grill in Cincinnati, Greeley Square Park in New York, the Kimpton Muse Hotel in New York, the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts in Arizona and the Guild Hotel in San Diego.
Swift’s Attic, a restaurant in Austin, is also in the running for its “Gothicstyle restrooms” that feature “floralpatterned sinks, antique light fixtures and gold and black striped wallpaper.”