A former American Airlines flight attendant who was sacked after failing an alcohol breathalyzer test is fighting for his job back, claiming that going on the controversial Keto diet led to a false positive. The keto or ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat diet that can help burn fat more effectively but can lead to lower alcohol tolerance.
Not that Andrew Riley had even drunk any alcohol before the random breathalyzer test he claims. Instead, Riley believes the Keto diet had caused a false-positive.
When your body goes into a metabolic state of ketosis, the liver breaks down fat for fuel and in turn, acetone is produced as a byproduct. Some of that unwanted acetone can then be released in your breath as isopropyl alcohol.
Some breathalyzers can tell the difference between ethanol and isopropyl – some of the cheaper models can’t and that’s when someone on the Keto diet could find themselves in trouble.
“I wasn’t drinking I wasn’t doing anything, just because I changed my diet,” Riley said in an interview with Fox 46 Charlotte.
“I don’t want to be punished and take consequences for something that I didn’t do, That’s like admitting to a crime or going to jail even though I didn’t do it,” he continued.
Pilots and flight attendants aren’t allowed to drink within eight hours of a flight and even then, the maximum blood alcohol level is just 0.04. The FAA has the right to randomly breathalyze flight attendants and in Riley’s case, he blew 0.05.
This wasn’t the first time he had failed a breathalyzer test. Riley also failed a 2013 test and under Department of Transport (DOT) rules, two failed tests mean permanent disqualification.
The now-disqualified flight attendant says he has filed an appeal with both American Airlines and the DOT in an attempt to get his job back. He’s hoping the authorities will introduce a more accurate test that would be able to tell the difference between isopropyl and ethanol.
American Airlines has declined to comment
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently used by some of the biggest names in journalism.