Inside the new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners.

LaGuardia Airport often gets a bad rap, from Donald Trump down to the plebeians who use the airport who are lately battling standstill traffic with all the construction. All this snarl and frustration is intended for a good end however, with a whole new modern vision for LaGuardia Airport en route. New state-of-the-art terminals are on the way, with more taxi space for the airplanes, even an AirTrain. And in one of the most surprising pieces of news we’ve heard about LaGuardia Airport recently, one of its new bathrooms is in the running to be voted America’s Best Restroom of 2019, an annual competition run by Cintas, a corporate supply company. You read that right, LaGuardia Airport might end up being home to the best bathroom in America.

Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

This bathroom is in the new Terminal B eastern concourse, which opened in December 2018. Terminal B, the largest public-private partnership in U.S. aviation history with a $4 billion project, is being constructed and opened in phases, with the older terminal still in operation. Among the notable innovations in the bathroom: it has a nearly hands free-design so you don’t have to touch a door handle, flush valve, soap dispenser, faucet, or toil dispenser. The stalls are wider than standard, designed to fit travelers with a place to stow a bag, three coat hooks, and off-set doors that make it easier to enter with a carry-on bag. All the stalls are ADA compliant. There’s also nice nursing room for mothers with a comfortable lounge chair. The new bathrooms are part of an overall initiative from the Port Authority called Project Clean, a holistic review and upgrade of all the bathrooms in the agency’s airports.

Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

New technology is also incorporated for a better user experience. Through a program called FeedbackNOW, bathroom users give their opinion by pushing a button to indicate level of satisfaction (green (excellent), yellow (okay), or red (negative)). This information is reported back to the operators, who see it on monitors and on their cell phones, and can then deploy custodial staff accordingly. The Port Authority reports that overall satisfaction, as measured by the feedback buttons, on the new bathroom at LaGuardia has improved to above 93 percent, increasingly almost 10 percent since the new concourse opened.

The operator and builder of the terminal, LaGuardia Gateway Partners, is also analyzing passenger trends that allow them to identify correlations between when planes are boarding and use in restrooms, and adjust resources as needed. Tracy Sandford, Senior Director of Communications at LaGuardia Gateway Partners told us, “For example, we have timed air fresheners based on estimated usage during certain times of the day, ensuring the right amount of spray for the busiest times in the concourse.” A mobile inspection tool called Smart Inspect allows staff to to take photos, create work order tickets, and create dashboards for tracking, which helps custodial teams target where to clean.

Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners

There are also small design details the traveler probably won’t notice but make a big difference. There isn’t a single corner on the floors of the bathroom and the terrazzo floor actually curves up 6 inches to prevent the collection of dirt and germs. Designing sans corners is a technique pioneered more than a century ago and can be seen in the abandoned hospitals on Ellis Island. The sinks are trough-style with a raised counter, avoiding inset sinks that often get flooded with water and make them unusable for putting bags or other items. Even the urinals have a shelf for bags. Lighting has been an important part of the design process as well. Each wash bay has a side-lit individual mirror, for a hotel-like feel. Glass has been added to the terrazzo floor, to reflect and disguise water droplets.

Inside the new Terminal B at LaGuardia Airport. Photo courtesy LaGuardia Gateway Partners.

A Port Authority spokesperson told us “LaGuardia Airport will soon be home to dozens of world-class amenities and concessions to enhance the customer experience from curbside to gate. To that end, the bathrooms at LaGuardia have been meticulously designed with travelers’ ease and comfort in mind. The new bathrooms are an important element of the Project Clean Initiative created by the Port Authority in 2018, which aims to understand the condition of every bathroom across the agency, and upgrade them where necessary.”

Sandford concludes, “As for the restrooms, we are very proud of these. But more importantly, the feedback from our guests has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, they’ve been quite the hit on social media and we’re also seeing positive comments from both surveys and direct feedback from passengers interacting with our team….Since opening the new concourse, we are actually getting phone calls praising the new restrooms!”

You can vote for the LaGuardia Airport bathroom in the America’s Best Bathroom competition here. Next, check out the Top 10 Secrets of LaGuardia Airport.

 bathroom, LaGuardia Airport

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