People have always been worried about the cleanliness of the bathroom door handles on airplanes — even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Now, thanks to two Japanese companies, those fears may soon be a thing of the past.
All Nippon Airways — Japan’s largest air carrier — has begun to roll out 21 aircraft with hands-free bathroom doors you can open with your elbow or forearm.
“We have continued to invest in the development and implementation of innovative technologies because the health and safety of passengers and our staff is the top priority,” Shinichi Inoue, senior executive vice president, Customer Experience Management & Planning at ANA said in a statement. “The hands-free lavatory door is the latest example of us putting this principle into practice as we look for ways to make the travel experience safer and more convenient.”
An Eye On Safety
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread, ANA created and put in place what it calls the ANA Care Promise, which includes important measures such as maintaining social distancing, using facemasks, and encouraging hand washing to “help limit potential vectors for the transmission of pathogens.”
ANA’s next step was to begin work with Jamco — a Japan-based company that creates products for the aviation industry — to create the hands-free bathroom door. Last fall, they began to test the doors in ANA’s lounge at Tokyo-Haneda Airport.
Now the hands-free doors are being used on 21 Boeing aircraft used for domestic travel in Japan. After the trial, ANA plans to begin using the doors on all domestic and international aircraft.
How The Door Works
The bathroom doors on airplanes typically have small, flat handles instead of conventional doorknobs. What this new door has instead, is a spring attached to the latch so it may be opened by pressing in — rather than pulling out.
“Inside the bathroom, the locking mechanism looks pretty familiar, with a button you slide from one side to the other,” a CNN article explains. “A larger-sized button can also be locked and unlocked with your elbow — meaning you can have a completely hands-free door both inside [the bathroom] and out.”
Know Before You Go
Japan is currently closed to U.S. citizens due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. You can monitor the country’s travel advisory status on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website. And, in the meantime, get inspired by all our Japan content here.