Airport toilets are getting cleaner thanks to new technology and a recognition by airport operators that toilets are a key factor in customer satisfaction, the New York Times reported October 5, 2018.

Industry group Airport Councils International’s (ACI) recent Airport Service Quality: Airport Cleanliness report found that clean restrooms and terminals had the greatest effect on travellers’ airport ratings. “If you want a pleasant experience, clean bathrooms are a must,” said ACI associate director Dimitri Coll.

Airports like Atlanta’s busy Hartsfield Jackson International Airport and LAX have invested in technology from TRAX SmartRestroom, which manages both restroom cleanup and stall availability to cut bathroom wait times.

The system is simple for travellers: a red light indicates an occupied stall, which green means the stall is available. In the background, sensors track how many people enter and exit the restroom so that cleaning crews can be alerted after certain thresholds have been met — 300 users, for example.

A smile/frown based rating system also provides customer feedback to airline officials and custodial staff.

Washington, D.C.’s Reagan and Dulles airports are using an app that provides updates on restroom cleanliness. “We know that there’s nothing worse than a dirty bathroom, and this app helps us make sure that ours stay clean,” said airport spokesperson Andrew Trull.