Japanese airline trials ‘hands-free’ toilet doors to halt coronavirus spread

A Japanese airline is trialling a new hands-free toilet experience in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Realising that hand hygiene is more important than ever when it comes to slowing the spread of Covid-19, All Nippon Airways (ANA) has introduced a bathroom door that can be operated with an elbow.

The door opens inwards, but the latch is pushed rather than pulled, meaning passengers do not need to use their hands to open it.

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Once inside, there is a large sliding bolt to lock the door that can also be pushed with your elbow.

The specially designed door, created by aviation product development company JAMCO, is a prototype, currently only available at ANA’s lounge at Haneda Airport in Tokyo.

However, the carrier has said it is collecting feedback on the concept until the end of August.

If passengers give it the thumbs up, the hands-free door could be rolled out across the ANA network.

Until then, travellers will have to make do with ANA’s “Care Promise”, which pledges “to ensure the comfort and safety of all its valued passengers and our employees by providing customers with clean and hygienic environments in airports, lounges and on board aircrafts.”

All ANA passengers are currently being asked to wear face masks or coverings, bring less carry-on luggage, and use self-service kiosks to check in for flights.

The airline has previously won awards for its cleanliness: last year ANA was named the cleanest airline in the world.

Japan’s leading carrier came top in the Skytrax World Airline Awards 2018, which were based on passenger ratings.

Travellers were asked to score airlines on the cleanliness of the seating areas, tables, carpets, cabin panels and toilets.

Other airlines are also taking various measure to lower the risk of coronavirus spreading on board aircraft.

US carrier Southwest, for example, is leaving all middle seats empty on every flight to enable social distancing, and has confirmed is will continue to do so until the end of October.

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