A flight attendant for American Airlines was today found guilty by a British court of attempting to operate a flight while over the alcohol limit – sometimes known as ‘drink flying’. Unlike in similar cases, however, the flight attendant was spared a jail sentence by the judge at Uxbridge Magistrates Court and was instead fined a total of £1,046 ($1,366).
Cynthia Struble, a long-time employee of American Airlines had been on a layover in London and was due to fly back to Dallas Fort Worth (DFW) from Heathrow Airport (LHR) on 28th December last year. She arrived at the airport with the other crew at around 9.30 in the morning but was stopped at a security checkpoint for extra inspection of her luggage.
It was at this point that a security screener working for the airport realised that Struble smelt of alcohol. Giving evidence to the court, the official said she could “definitely smell alcohol” coming from Struble and that it was “very strong”. Struble left the checkpoint, despite being told to wait by security officers but the police were alerted and stopped her before she got on the plane.
The police officer who arrested the 64-year old flight attendant told the court that he could “clearly smell alcohol emanating from Struble,” although he noted that “she was able to converse and had no other signs of being under the influence.”
Struble, though, was arrested and a blood test taken by a police doctor revealed she was more than three times over the legal limit. While the legal limit in the United Kingdom for flight and cabin crew is just 20 milligrams of alcohol her 100 millilitres of blood, Struble’s toxicology report came back with a reading of 93.
The veteran flight attendant had pleaded not guilty but did not have to appear in court having been discharged from appearing at an earlier hearing. It is not known whether Struble will face disciplinary proceedings from her employer.
In November last year, a pilot for Japan Airlines was jailed for 10-months by a British court for failing a breath test at Heathrow Airport. First Officer, Katsutoshi Jitsukawa was found to be over nine times to legal limit when he reported for duty to operate a flight back to Tokyo.