Aug. 19, 2011 -- French actor Gerard Depardieu claims prostate problems caused his recent plane peeing fiasco, but if incontinence is really to blame for the 62-year-old's urination in the aisle of an Air France flight Wednesday, it begs the question: Should Depardieu have been wearing diapers?
That depends, say prostate experts.
Considering access to on-flight lavatories is forbidden while the plane is taxiing, taking off, landing and during turbulence, air travel can be tricky business for those with bladder difficulties, according to doctors.
"I often discuss this issue with patients and encourage them to be careful on planes regarding their urination schedule and timing their urination events with regard to restrictions on access to the restrooms," says Dr. Howard Sandler, a prostate cancer expert at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
For those who are worried that they can't plan around their gotta-go moments, Dr. Glenn Bubley, director of genitourinary oncology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston said some of his patients will wear Depends diapers. Issues with bathroom access on flights "happens all the time" for his patients with prostate issues, he says.
Depardieu was traveling from Paris to Dublin when his flight was delayed on the runway. Though it is airline protocol for all passengers to be seated while the plane is taxiing, the actor stood up and told the stewardess that he had to urinate and that he could not wait.
When he was denied access to the bathroom, Depardieu peed into an empty bottle, according to his travel partner and fellow actor, Edouard Baer, who made a statement on his behalf to the French Press.
However, the bottle overflowed and Depardieu ended up relieving himself partly on the floor of the plane. He was subsequently kicked off the Air France flight.
Chris Mainz, a spokesman for Southwest Airlines, which is not connected to Air France, said it is dangerous for passengers to be out of their seats during taxiing, flight, take-off, or any other time the captain puts on the "fasten seat belts" sign.
"In that regard," he said, "we're kind of limited in what we can do to in these situations."
Seating these passengers closer to the lavatories is one option, though "fortunately, this is not an issue we have to address very often."