On a recent flight a passenger locked himself in the lavatory for almost the entire duration of the flight. It was only when the flight was in the final leg of descent that he could be persuaded to come out.
In similar situations, can the cabin crew open the door from the outside if it is locked from the inside?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related (on Travel): Staying in the toilet during landing $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 31, 2015 at 16:55
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Those doors aren't meant to be super secure anyways, so worst comes to worst they could break it down $\endgroup$ Dec 31, 2015 at 18:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @DavidGrinberg Or, as described in the link above, simply remove it from its hinges. Apparently the doors are designed for the cabin crew to be able to easily remove them entirely, should they so desire. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 31, 2015 at 19:49
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @reirab Thanks that link was relevant. I was looking for some guidelines issued by FAA in this regard, as it may be a potential security situation $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Jan 1, 2016 at 6:50

2 Answers 2


Apparently yes. It has been mentioned in a number of places. One of the methods given is pretty simple:

Step 1: Approach locked lavatory

Step 2: Lift "LAVATORY" sign

Step 3: Slide the knob into the unlocked position

Thats all to it, though they may vary with the aircraft.

As @RalphJ points out in the comments, it should go without saying that unless you are cabin crew, you should not be doing this.

  • 18
    $\begingroup$ CAUTION: Chances are good that if you use this information when you shouldn't, you will be the first person to deplane, because the police will be escorting you off to have a chat with them. "Interfering with flight crew" may figure in the conversation. If the lavatory door needs to be opened, better to ask the flight attendants to do so. This info does NOT need to be more widely available, because it CAN get somebody in deep trouble, with no good purpose served by retelling it. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Dec 31, 2015 at 14:22
  • 16
    $\begingroup$ One would hope that most people would have enough common sense to be aware that opening an occupied public bathroom stall without permission has consequences. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 31, 2015 at 16:47
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ I don't know if it's just me, but I always find with good observation, figuring out how to open the door from the outside is pretty straightforward. $\endgroup$
    – kevin
    Dec 31, 2015 at 17:35
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @reirab The frustrating part about common sense is how remarkably un-common it appears to be in each passing generation. $\endgroup$
    – Cort Ammon
    Dec 31, 2015 at 18:04
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ: I am sure, all frequent fliers know this trick, which makes me wonder why the aircraft manufacturers don't employ a better procedure, like a master key (available only to the crew). On long haul flights and late at night, somebody might want to enter a toilet already occupied by a female passenger with a wrong intention, and lack of better security might lead to an unwanted incident. $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Jan 2, 2016 at 6:56

Yes, the flight attendants can lock and unlock the lavatories from the cabin. As far as I know, the specific ways that they do this, which probably vary from one aircraft type to another, aren't published by the airlines as a matter of protecting customers' privacy. Bad day for everybody if a deviant was to use such a method to open an occupied lavatory to get a cheap thrill.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ It's no secret: I've seen how the attendants do it on pretty much every international flight I've taken. $\endgroup$
    – Hugh
    Jan 1, 2016 at 12:14
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ One might conclude locking any bathroom door is merely a way to indicate the lavatory is occupied. Privacy is a relative concept in this world anyway. $\endgroup$ Jan 2, 2016 at 15:10

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .