One of the rather stranger features of the Charlotte airport is bathroom attendants. There’s nothing as awkward in the world as a bathroom with an attendant, except a bathroom with an attendant who works for tips.
- Bathroom attendant tipping induces confusion, and fear. Are you supposed to tip every time? How much? Does it depend what they do for you? Or what you’ve done in their ‘office’?
- What if you only have $20s? You’d visit the ATM but ATMs usually only dispense $20s. Do you shrug and walk out? Ask for change?
- What does it say about you that you’re being served… in the bathroom? Sometimes there are racial elements involved too, which foster guilt. And it’s awkward having someone there watching and monitoring at that most private of times, where even in a public restroom you may be looking to create a sense of anonymity.
While Charlotte airport decided to keep the bathroom attendants, they increased pay — from $3.29 an hour plus tips (although a guarantee of minimum wage if tipping didn’t get them there) to $10-$12 an hour — and eliminated tipping in July. Or did they?
I’ve heard from passengers that bathroom attendants still solicit tips. Here’s one mention I noticed on Facebook over the weekend:
[T]he guy is standing at the sinks, with a small bottle of cologne and a strategically held dollar bill in one hand
I decided to reach out to the airport to see what’s going on. Here’s what an airport spokesperson explained,
Charlotte Douglas International Airport began its restroom attendants’ no solicitation for tips policy on July 4. Tip jars were removed and signs were temporarily placed in restrooms informing passengers that tipping is no longer requested.
Additional housekeeping supervisors also were hired to ensure enforcement of the new policy. Any housekeeping employee who continues to solicit for tips does receive disciplinary action.
There were no tipping signs — but those were temporary. However attendants aren’t supposed to solicit tips, and they can get in trouble for doing so. There’s no expectation of tipping in the bathrooms at the Charlotte airport. Employee pay no longer assumes tipping, salaries have been raised, so one of the main arguments for tipping has been removed as well.
Besides, many people find the bathroom attendants creepy as it is (even if some passengers like free mints). Pressure to tip becomes, for some, a reason to prefer the aircraft lavatory over the airport restroom. And that’s just wrong.
The airport suggests the bathroom attendants are key to clean bathrooms, and that’s key to the airport’s reputation. In Kuala Lumpur bathroom screens take cleanliness ratings instead:
And in Sydney you can buy whatever you want from a machine instead of being handed it by a person who wants a tip:
If you transit Charlotte, probably on American Airlines, just be aware that the bathroom attendants are being paid a wage that assumes no tipping. Perhaps the airport should bring back the no tipping signs. And does one need to add that this is a change in bathroom policy in North Carolina that didn’t require the state legislature to get involved?