Protection Status

Gall and Bladder

The impact of pilot urinary incontinence on the aviation industry

How often in a day do you take a piss? Go to the bathroom, I mean, for a small job. Twice? Thrice? Maybe four times, if you’re having the recommended eight glasses of water? That’s probably once every six hours, therefore.

Now imagine that you have just one brief, but critical, engagement during the day — only one event, lasting not more than two hours, which you have to lead. Maybe you’re chairing an important meeting, giving a dance performance, making a speech, or interviewing for a job. Given the average gap between urinations, there’s a high probability that you wouldn’t need to use the restroom during that brief period. But the more cautious amongst us would anyway go for a wee-wee just before that event starts; just to avoid any discomfort or embarrassment during that occasion.

Which is why, it just boggles me as to why, on virtually every flight that I’m on, the captain leaves the cockpit mid-air to go to the bathroom. And I’m not talking transatlantic sojourns here — I am referring to short domestic flights; an hour or two at most. Taking off the plane from point A and safely landing it at point B is conceivably the only thing that the pilot and co-pilot will do all day. The two of them are responsible for this machine storming through the skies at close to the speed of sound. Can’t they just hold it in for the brief stretch that they are actually doing some work?

But no! No sooner has the plane reached cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign gone off that the cockpit door opens. Stewardesses rush in a panic to draw the curtains or block the aisle with a food trolley — just so our loosey-goosey Captain is hidden from view. He struts into the loo, unzips, wiggles, zips, flushes, adjusts trousers, checks his smile, steps back out, flirts with the stewardesses, grabs a coffee and then goes back into the cockpit. Barely have the passengers heaved a sigh of relief that the co-pilot emerges and goes through the same damn routine.

This situation completely freaks me out, as it should most readers. Airports have more bathrooms per capita than any other place on the planet — why can’t the crew just make a pit stop before they board? And we will be landing shortly and cant they do some kegel exercises and focus on the flight until we reach the gate?

The good news is that I have never seen lady pilots use restrooms mid-flight. So apparently, they have better bladder control than their male counterparts. So a simple, cost-effective solution would be to place disposable plastic canisters in the cockpit. If one’s got to go, one’s got to go. Just grab the bottle, lean back, and do your thing.

I shall welcome awards and congratulations from the airline industry for my noteworthy contribution to pilot productivity and flight safety. And now that I have finished writing this piece – not mid-way but having completed it – please excuse me while I take a leak.


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