American Flight Attendant Shows Up To Work 8 Times Over Alcohol Limit

More details are emerging of an American flight attendant who showed up to work a Manchester to Chicago flight while being eight times over the legal alcohol limit. Fortunately this was discovered while the crew was doing their pre-flight checks, before the 787 was set to take off for Chicago. Therefore she could be removed from the plane and the flight could continue.

American-787

When you hear that she was eight times over the legal limit, you’re probably surprised she could even function. However, keep in mind that aviation laws are much stricter than driving laws. She had a reading of 71mg oh alcohol in 100ml of breath, while the UK Aviation Act limits one to 9mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath.

Meanwhile the UK driving limit is 35mg of alcohol in 100ml of breath, so she was just over double that limit. Not that this makes what she did acceptable, but I do think a bit of context is useful.

So, what’s the flight attendant’s excuse for showing up to work intoxicated? Per the Manchester Evening News:

“To be fair to her, in interview she gave a candid account to police. She had drunk more than usual the night before and her last drink was at 2am. She felt fine for work and if she had known she was over the limit she wouldn’t have gone to work. She apologised, saying she was extremely sorry and embarrassed at being arrested.”

He described how she had gone out with friends the night before and they had taken their own wine.

Mr Reddy added: “It boils down to a miscalculation.”

Later that night she had trouble sleeping so drank a miniature bottle of whisky, which he said took her ‘over the limit’.

InterContinental-Minibar

This is no doubt a very unfortunate situation, and I’m not sure what to think here. On one hand I feel sort of bad for her, if she has had a 29 year career with no major issues, and this makes her lose her job. While it might be a bit of a stretch to call this a “miscalculation,” it’s entirely possible that she felt fine and that this was a one-off thing.

At the same time, she probably should have known better.

What do you think should happen in a situation like this — should the flight attendant be terminated, or given a stern warning?

Comments

  1. What does the flight attendants contract say ? Usually there is an agreed upon procedure to handle discipline and termination. Especially if the person has an otherwise unblemished record. I would be curious to find out how they made the determination. Breathalyzer? Did she act drunk? Probable cause can be somewhat subjective. She must have reeked of alcohol or was disoriented at the airport. On a different but related subject it does make me curious how the airlines handle recreational drug use like marijuana where local laws vary considerably by jurisdiction.

  2. she could go to Air India. Nobody cares there. Referring to the stories where pilots being drunk multiple times and keep flying for the airline. But again, over there, those are male employees so probably he flies with no problem while she would get lashes.

  3. No sympathy whatsoever. Anyone who works in aviation and is subject to testing knows the regulations and the consequences of non-compliance. She is lucky to get away with what amounts to just a slap on the wrist. She could easily be facing jail time.

  4. You can’t be liberal and pick and choose which laws can be broken. If you want to legalize illegals, allow people to drive drunk. Prosecute drunks after they get in am accident and kill a loved one of yours. Why punish before a crime is committed. We don’t stop Muslims from immigrating to the USA just bcause dime of them could be terrorists. Or perhaps we should penalize them before they commit a crime.

  5. Hey Lucky, just to clarify, the UK Driving limit is not a thing any more.

    There are separate DD Limits for England & Wales, and Scotland, with the Scottish one being substantially lower.

  6. I’ve been flying forever and I have many friends who are flight attendants and I know that substance abuse, particularly in the more senior ranks, is a big problem. I personally know of one US Airways FA with over 30 years of seniority who showed up for work over the blood alcohol limit. She was sent home then off to rehab, is clean now and still works flights today. And sadly, I know of another who died last summer (not on duty, at home) from an accidental mix of prescription sleep medicine and alcohol. We all complain about occasional jet lag but these long haul flight crews live with it constantly and many turn to drugs and alcohol for sleep relief.

    I don’t know what the labor contract says, but if is a first time offense, I believe sending her to rehab should be a consideration.

  7. I work in the railroad industry, and we can be randomly tested at any time. There is a sort of 3-strike policy (called Rule G), with Strikes 1 and 2 involving rehab before return to duty. We are encouraged to tell management about anyone who appears to be intoxicated. To make sure no one shows up to work inebriated or high, there is even a program called Operation Redblock, where we can refuse to work when called upon once a year without penalty, if we’re not fit for duty from a night of partying like this flight attendant had.

  8. She wasn’t flying/driving. It’s like the bus conductor being drunk. Not the same as the bus driver being drunk. A warning/probation is sufficient. Termination on a repeat offence.

    MHO

  9. I work as an aviation safety professional, and we are always reminded by the Union to not drive drunk and if you have any doubt in your mind whether you have ANY alcohol in your system to CALL IN SICK. It’s really not that hard to stay out of trouble.

  10. I know of many airline personnel who’ve had a bit too much the night before and call in sick. It’s how it’s supposed to be done. No harm, no foul. Don’t do it too often. Come to think of it, most of the crews I know have done this at least once in their careers.

    HOW did this woman encounter a breathalyzer? My guess is that other staff were concerned by her behavior and rightfully had her tested / removed from the flight. Considering take-off is one of the most critical times in flight, crew need to be at their best at that time and not sleeping it off.

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