Pittsburgh Airport Will Use Artificial Intelligence To Know When To Clean The Bathrooms

Airport bathrooms have always been sketchy places, and not just because you might run into former Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Whether it’s a hand poking through a men’s room wall at the Hong Kong airport, someone replacing the soap with a bodily fluid in Detroit, or a collapsing toilet sending a man to the hospital in Hefei, China, these are places you’ve wanted to get in and out of as quickly as possible.

With the Covid-19 pandemic airport bathrooms have taken on a new urgency because of risk of virus spread. They’re a congregative setting that’s often poorly ventilated. And airports aren’t known for taking great care of them.

At Dallas Fort-Worth, for instance, when they renovated the A terminal they didn’t even refresh the bathrooms and when they re-do terminal C they’ve scaled back the budget so there’s no money to do the restrooms there, either.

Nice restrooms in airports are more common in Asia. For instance the men’s room on the G pier in Singapore’s terminal 4 ought to be a tourist destination in its own right.

Pittsburgh’s airport, though, is adopting a new technology so that they at least know when to clean the restrooms. They’ve “teamed up with Carnegie Mellon University to increase the efficiency” of their cleaning efforts by “calculat[ing] real-time, smarter cleaning schedules using artificial intelligence that takes into account when and where flights are coming in, how many people are using a restroom based on a beam that counts people as they approach, and, eventually, sensors that alert staff when soap needs to be refilled and garbage needs to be emptied.”

Why don’t they just increase the frequency of cleanings? Because the goal here isn’t just cleanliness. According to the airport’s Senior Vice President of Information Technology, they’re looking to cut cleaning costs, too.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take cleaning at the right time over not cleaning. But there are basics we should really do first, like the self-disposing toilet seat covers you’ll find at Chicago O’Hare.

Or even just making sure passengers can tell which restroom is for men and which is for women. (Note: this is especially important in North Carolina and Oklahoma.)

    Credit: Jacksonville International Airport

Or, in the Spirit Airlines terminal in Fort Lauderdale, consider adding a sign over the urinals that says “don’t eat the big white mint.”

Or, like the low cost terminal in Austin, tell passengers to only use one urinal at a time.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just look at how much money is being spent on this kind of worthless stuff…..oh it will “definitely” all go away when everyone’s vaxxed…..yeah right!!!

  2. In today’s woke culture, does the ATL airport still have the pink and blue lighting at the entrances to their rest rooms? Or will that get changed to a neutral purple?

  3. If I may invoke some local dialect, ‘the jaggoff piddler went dahn the airport an’nat’

  4. Also this is not AI. Everyone just uses that word to sound cool but the definition of AI is far deeper

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