All Nippon Airways (ANA) will install the worlds first hands-free lavatory doors on 21 aircraft over the coming weeks. The first plane to feature the hands-free lavatory doors will take to the skies on May 1, initially only operating domestic flights across Japan.
The lavatory doors were developed in response to the pandemic as companies around the world looked to touchless tech in a bid to eliminate vectors for the transmission of pathogens.
Although mounting evidence suggests that COVID-19 isn’t spread by touching surfaces as was originally feared, ANA has decided to press ahead with its innovative lavatory door design with airline interior specialists JAMCO.
The bi-fold doors will be installed on 11 Boeing 787-8 aircraft, two Boeing 787-9 aircraft, and eight Boeing 777-200. The doors can be opened, locked and unlocked with an elbow or arm, although a passenger can also use their hands to operate the door if they wish.
But will the idea catch on? Airplane lavatory bi-fold doors remain stubbornly difficult for many passengers to master even though they’ve been in existence for years. Adding an extra layer of complexity might just make the situation even worse.
ANA says it has placed signage near the lavatory to “provide operational instructions” for first-timers, although that assumes passengers take any notice of their pictorial instructions.
Tokyo-based JAMCO has been working on a number of other hands-free updates to airplane lavatories including pedal operated toilet seats and waste flaps. The company has also looked at automatic electrostatic disinfectant spraying that would sanitize the lavatory between passengers.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.