Travel tip of the week: be kind to cleaning staff

I’ve talked about airport bathrooms before.  I don’t really consider myself a restroom analyst or a restroom expert, but let’s face it, nature calls and I end up using a lot of airport restrooms.  When I first started traveling out of CLT back in ’07 the restrooms were horrible.  As part of an airport enhancement campaign the restrooms have pretty much all been renovated.  In addition to this renovation during normal business hours there are restroom attendants.  ATL renovated all restrooms about the same time but does not have bathroom attendants.  The difference is huge.  The restrooms (woman’s at least) are clean.  There is always soap in the dispenser, toilet paper on the roll instead of the floor, paper towel machines work.  In ATL I’ve had to go in standing water puddles, TP all over the floor, and the sink that turns on doesn’t have soap!  As I get older I’m really seeing that you get what you pay for so when CLT has a bathroom attendant I make an effort to put money in the tip jar.  I also, most importantly, greet her with a smile and leave by thanking her. Why?  Well because I sure don’t want to do that job, but I like clean toilets and working bathrooms.

I haven’t noticed dedicated bathroom attendants at other airports (I wish it would spread *hint hint* ATL), but if I see someone with a cart cleaning the rest room I do try to say thank you.  It’s the least I can do.   Some airport bathrooms are just run down looking, the C concourse of ORD comes to mind.  That bathroom is just a horrible layout and needs renovation.  I don’t hold that against the cleaning staff.  I just hold them responsible for cleaning up TP wads that end up on the floor, keeping the trash cans empty so paper towels don’t spill everywhere, and refilling soap.

Another part of being kind of cleaning staff is just common courtesy by cleaning up after yourself.  I was in SFO the other day and wished I had my good camera because there was so much litter in the gate area my phone camera couldn’t get enough detail in a wide shot.  I guess  I could have been really nice and cleaned it up, but I found it interesting that a city with such a green image wouldn’t have people trying to keep the airport nice at 8 pm.


  1. Thanks for reminding us how important it is to be nice to the people who make our lives easier when traveling. This goes for the hotel staff, gate agents, flight attendants, car rental staff, and all the other people along the way who are often overlooked. I would definitely not want any of these jobs and I am grateful that most of the people who do hold these positions are hardworking and helpful. A smile and a friendly face are especially appreciated by gate agents and flight attendants who often are the scapegoats for our anger at the airlines.

    I am a consultant in Princeton, NJ and fly out of EWR where the restrooms are usually pretty clean. This is surprising because EWR is such a busy airport, but there are a lot of restrooms and I see the cleaning staff in them fairly often. JAX and OMA also have very clean restrooms.

  2. Thank you for this post, and to Patricia for her comment above. You never know how much a smile and acknowledgement can change a person’s day. Best wishes for your travels!

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