A place to hang your hat


Last week, my travels took me through San Francisco and Vancouver. While at the airports in both cities, I was reminded of how poor the bathrooms are in most airports. I’m not talking about cleanliness or peak traffic capacity, although those are often a problem. Rather, I’m referring to the lack of places to put your bag, coat, and other items while using the restroom.

When I’m about to get on a plane, I typically have a bag of some sort, plus a jacket during the winter months. Yet most airport restrooms have just one little hook in the bathroom stall, which is usually too small to even hang a jacket on. When you have more than one item, or the one item falls off the hook, you’re forced to put your stuff on the floor. I’ve learned to do this by necessity, but it’s still pretty gross to lay your possessions on the bathroom floor. Would it really cost that much more to install bigger hooks?

This experience tells me that airport bathrooms aren’t exactly at the top of anyone’s consumer behavior studies. This is probably due to privacy concerns, as nobody wants cameras or live researchers tracking their restroom usage. But that’s no excuse for such obviously poor design. Performing exit surveys with a random sampling of customers would surely provide evidence of the problem. Maybe then we might see some cheap but effective innovations: two or three large hooks for hanging your coat, hat, and bags, or a shelf for storing items that don’t have anything to hang them by.

Surely I’m not alone in wanting these enhancements. But if the airport designers never ask people about their experiences, they might never figure out that such obvious features are missing.