Sobriety Questioned by Pax

mrezee

Living the dream!
I'm a dispatcher, not a pilot, but this is based on a real incident that happened at my regional last year.

After a min-rest overnight due to a bad IROP the previous day, you hop off the hotel shuttle at the small outstation terminal to operate your flight back to the hub. Walking up to the gate, you see that the flight is delayed 90 minutes; the inbound aircraft hasn't even left the hub yet. Tired and hungry, you head over to the bar-restaurant next to the gate and sit down to have some lunch as well as a large glass of Coke to perk you back up.

The aircraft finally arrives and you head over to the gate, stepping behind the podium to pick up the release. You don't see some cables on the floor running from the computers back to the wall, so you stumble a little bit as you step over them. You and the rest of the crew head down to the aircraft, preflight the aircraft, and boarding begins.

While you're programming the FMS, the forward flight attendant approaches you. A pax that just stepped on the aircraft is demanding to speak to you and ask if you have been drinking. The basis of her accusation is unknown; maybe she saw you drinking (a Coke) at the restaurant, or stumble when getting the paperwork, or both? Or maybe she saw neither, and she's just a very anxious, infrequent flier that recently read a news article about the inebriated AA pilot that was just arrested in Manchester, UK. Regardless, you haven't had a drink in 3 days. But the passenger is refusing to sit down until she knows.

So do you speak to the passenger and tell her you're not intoxicated? Or do you decline to speak to her at all and have the flight attendant tell her that everything is fine? Do you ask the station supervisor or GSC to talk to the passenger? Or do you ask the airport police to perform a breathalyzer test on you, proving your sobriety yet taking a massive delay? Note that this particular airline takes their social media presence very seriously, so if she posts anything on social media regarding the incident, you'll most likely be hearing from the chief pilot.

You're the Captain, what do you do?

[Note: I'm not sure of the actual outcome of this incident as it was handled by the on-duty pilot in our SOC, but I do know the Captain was able to operate the flight.]
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
Call my chief pilot and demand a drug/alcohol test followed by a PA that sounds like, “ladies and gentlemen, the passenger in 12A has accused me of drinking, the flight is now delayed so I can take a drug test.”

Wwwooorrllddsstarrr!


This actually happened to my dad about 10 years ago. Sometimes our FAs ask us to open a wine bottle to give to first class during the pre departure because it’s on too tight or they can’t get it off for some reasons . I never touch it. Called me paranoid but you never know who is watching and who has their phone out. Not worth it.
 

Roger Roger

Paid to sleep, fly for fun
I’m going to follow my companies procedure which is going to involve testing.

We got falsely accused once.
Question brought by the phrasing in one of the earlier posts...in a case like that do you just do a breathalyzer or do they do a full tox screen? If so doesn’t the time required to process the wiz quiz essentially mean you’re done for the day? Or do they process them faster down in civilization?
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Quickly paraphrased, but it’s generally a call to operations to start “The Process”.

It’ll usually involve the GSC to or designee to remove the crew from the airport to conduct a situational and behavioral assessment which (often? usually?) leads to an official testing facility for further evaluation. If (and hopefully ‘when’) you clear, you coordinate with local ops, flight control and the duty pilot to see what happens next. You may operate the flight, they may have called another crew in the meantime, basically it all depends. But an alcohol “joke” is going to take anywhere from 45 minutes to several hours for the dust to settle.

That’s a very rough walk-through, but at my shop, if you’re accused, you have to follow the procedure.
 

Autothrust Blue

"I’d make a suggestion but you won’t listen”
This actually happened to my dad about 10 years ago. Sometimes our FAs ask us to open a wine bottle to give to first class during the pre departure because it’s on too tight or they can’t get it off for some reasons . I never touch it. Called me paranoid but you never know who is watching and who has their phone out. Not worth it.
"Get that off my flight deck, right now." (yes, it actually happened)

Also, I trip over my own feet on a regular basis, so bring the "jokes" about coordination. Just not about inebriation.
 

BobDDuck

Island Bus Driver
I've worked under FOMs in the past that prohibited eating food in uniform is a place that had a bar in it. If I recall we also couldn't order food from a bar based cash register.

Where I am at now doesn't have a written policy for handling an drinking accusation so I have a little bit of leeway. I'd probably speak to the passenger in the jetway first and ask them to reiterate their concern to me (was it a joke?) and with that info in hand call the CP to see what they want to do. Even if the passenger said it was a joke, I'd still be advocating for a test.
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
I've worked under FOMs in the past that prohibited eating food in uniform is a place that had a bar in it. If I recall we also couldn't order food from a bar based cash register.

Where I am at now doesn't have a written policy for handling an drinking accusation so I have a little bit of leeway. I'd probably speak to the passenger in the jetway first and ask them to reiterate their concern to me (was it a joke?) and with that info in hand call the CP to see what they want to do. Even if the passenger said it was a joke, I'd still be advocating for a test.
We can eat in a place that has a bar like Applebee’s or Fridays as long we don’t sit at the bar, although I’m not sure why I’d be in uniform in one of those places or even eating there in the first place. If other passengers heard someone accuse me of drinking, I wouldn’t even confront the passenger.. I’m off to get a drug test
 

Bandit_Driver

Gold Member
I would ask for the GSC/CRO/CP and talk to the passenger in the jetway. Then I would let the company handle it from there. If they say delay/cancel and get tested i get tested, if they say fly it I'll fly it.
 

Bandit_Driver

Gold Member
I've worked under FOMs in the past that prohibited eating food in uniform is a place that had a bar in it. If I recall we also couldn't order food from a bar based cash register.

Where I am at now doesn't have a written policy for handling an drinking accusation so I have a little bit of leeway. I'd probably speak to the passenger in the jetway first and ask them to reiterate their concern to me (was it a joke?) and with that info in hand call the CP to see what they want to do. Even if the passenger said it was a joke, I'd still be advocating for a test.
Your old FOM would eliminate a lot of airport restaurants now.
 

guywhoflies

Y'NO WUT IM SAYIN
I was in an airline lounge recently and saw a captain and first officer in uniform enjoying a snack before their flight. It was odd to say the least, but it must be part of their contract because the woman at the front desk didn't bat an eye as she checked them in.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
I was in an airline lounge recently and saw a captain and first officer in uniform enjoying a snack before their flight. It was odd to say the least, but it must be part of their contract because the woman at the front desk didn't bat an eye as she checked them in.
Airline lounges in the US have really become devalued in the past few years with all of the credit card passes. Coupons required for drinks, crappy food, etc. I’m not surprised they’re letting uniformed crew in now too.
 

Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Airline lounges in the US have really become devalued in the past few years with all of the credit card passes. Coupons required for drinks, crappy food, etc. I’m not surprised they’re letting uniformed crew in now too.
I was company business over to Asia a few months ago, purchased a ‘day pass’ in DTW because I had arrived on a redeye and had a few hours to kill.

Hot damn, it was JAM-PACKED and it’s was, at best, OK and not quite the experience it used to be.
 

guywhoflies

Y'NO WUT IM SAYIN
I was company business over to Asia a few months ago, purchased a ‘day pass’ in DTW because I had arrived on a redeye and had a few hours to kill.

Hot damn, it was JAM-PACKED and it’s was, at best, OK and not quite the experience it used to be.
Nothing like eating "home made" hummus and sipping a glass of cheap red wine while standing in the corner by the bathrooms because that's the only free spot without being in the middle of the walkways.
 

Flyinthrew

Well-Known Member
It’s a glorified waiting room, but it’s still better than being with gen-pop. I’ll take my B-concourse mac-n-cheese and free Sam Adams over a knife fight for the electrical outlet near the gate any day of the week.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
 
Top