I've seen this interesting question just the other day, asking what would pilots do after receiving this information while on final:
either go around or continue with the landing.

However many others mentioned the Sterile cockpit rule under 10,000ft. Meaning that they could not discuss this issue.
So what would this mean exactly? The flight attendants could inform the pilots but they can’t respond?? Or the FA’s just can’t/won’t inform the pilots about the situation at all?

  • $\begingroup$ I'm now made curious as to what is the risk to this passenger. Is it merely a reduced chance of surviving a crash and an increased chance of being hurt by a very bumpy landing? Or is there a particular situation that might result in him getting covered in sewage? $\endgroup$
    – nigel222
    Commented Dec 17, 2019 at 9:51

4 Answers 4


"Sterile Cockpit" refers to the concept that pilots should not discuss anything not related to the flight during certain phases of flight (often defined as below FL100).

A passenger occupying the lavatory while the flight is on approach and passengers are supposed to be in their seats definitely does have an impact on the flight, so it does not fall under the "sterile cockpit"rule.

  • 21
    $\begingroup$ Or better said: is one of the topics to be discussed in sterile cockpit... $\endgroup$
    – tsg
    Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 9:19
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Just curious, why is a passenger in the lavatory (when they're not supposed to be) relevant to the flight? Is it because of passenger safety? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 3:49
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    $\begingroup$ @a25bedc5-3d09-41b8-82fb-ea6c353d75ae I guess if passengers are supposed to be in their seats, they are also supposed to have their belts fastened. In the lavatory there aren't any belts to fasten... $\endgroup$
    – Ruslan
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 11:03
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    $\begingroup$ @a25bedc5-3d09-41b8-82fb-ea6c353d75ae Your username might be the result of a very old bug: meta.stackexchange.com/questions/135178/… $\endgroup$
    – dotancohen
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 13:24
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    $\begingroup$ @nick012000 a single passenger is not likely to affect weight & balance on an aircraft large enough to have lavatories. There are several questions here at Aviation about moving passengers to adjust W&B, and most of them agree that it would take large numbers of pax moving to have any impact. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 13:35

"Sterile cockpit" doesn't mean abject silence; it means no idle chitchat.

An issue relating to the safety of passengers is not idle chitchat, so it can be discussed at any time during the flight.

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    $\begingroup$ Just a slightly different wording to hammer it home! $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 15, 2019 at 16:55

"Sterile cockpit" means also that the cockpit crew shall only perform the duties that are required for the safe operation of the aircraft. Any paperwork, work on the pedestal (the table on AIRBUS) and non-essential conversations between the cockpit members and crew should be avoided.


  • During take-off: from the time the wheels are rolling until landing gear is up and the chime sounds, the cabin crew shall not contact the cockpit crew.
  • During landing: The cabin crew can contact the cockpit crew at any time during the approach, but when the landing gear is extended until aircraft lands and reaches the taxi speed, the cabin crew shall not contact the cockpit crew.

It will all depend on when that passenger decides to hide in the lavatory, but I doubt he can. Cabin crew will not allow him to.

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    $\begingroup$ In all the millions of times I've been on a plane, I've never actually noticed; Do the the toilet doors have central locking? That is, when they announce seat-belts on and no further toilet use, can they centrally lock the doors so that no-one can dash to the loo? $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 11:22
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    $\begingroup$ @OscarBravo Every plane I've been on (mostly 737s, 747s and the like) the locks have at least appeared to be a local, physical mechanism with no evidence of any machinery that could make central locking work. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 11:26
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    $\begingroup$ @OscarBravo I don't believe there's central locking but the cabin crew can lock them from the outside and there is often a member of cabin crew sat near the w.c. during landing. $\endgroup$
    – Notts90
    Commented Dec 16, 2019 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @OscarBravo The lavatory doors can easily be locked and unlocked from the outside. The cabin crew does so manually after takeoff and before landing. $\endgroup$ Commented Dec 19, 2019 at 15:43

You have got the answer before but I would like to add that some airlines have more restrictions on talks between cabin and flightdeck. For example, in my airline after the call from flight deck to the cabin for cabin crew to be seated for landing, there should be no call from the cabin until landing, even if they spot a fire or something else.


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