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I sometimes see flight attendants lift this plate up on the lavatory door. Why do they do that?

airplane cabin lavatory door slider

Consuela G.’s question answered:

That metal plate covers the external lavatory door opening and closing mechanism. 

It lifts a spring mechanism by pulling the plate up with your finger.

It serves two purposes:

1.

Procedures require a flight attendant to lock the lavatory doors for takeoff and landing.

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That prevents passengers from going in there during critical phases of flight when everybody is required to remain seated with the seat belt fastened..

2.

It also functions as a means for the flight attendants to enter a locked restroom door anytime, to i.e. go in and assist a person who may need help for any reason after locking the lavatory door.

Each lavatory has a flight attendant call button for assistance if needed.

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