Drunks on a plane!

3424024961_c274752fdf_mIt’s not hard to spot inebriated passengers when they walk on board and announce, “Let’s party and have some drinks!”  Those we know to keep an eye on.  It’s the quiet ones we have to worry about, the ones who ask for a cup of ice, and that’s it. That’s the red flag that there might be a little something – something hidden somewhere. 


Does it come as a surprise to learn intoxicated passengers have a tendency to turn into trouble after a few too many?  The reason they seem tipsier in the air than on the ground is because of the lower oxygen levels in the blood.  The same amount of alcohol goes a lot further at 35,000 feet. Which is why flight crew need to be able to monitor how much passengers drink, so we can cut them off before it’s too late.  While rarely a threat to the safety to the aircraft, unless of course they’re threatening to shoot the crew with a 9mm handgun like one drunken passenger did on a flight from Cuba, they do have a tendency to wreak havoc.  I’m positive this is the reason it’s against FAA regulations to board someone who appears to be intoxicated. If an airline gets caught knowingly doing so, they will be issued a fine. 


Which brings us to Kate Moss.  Can we for a moment forget she was traveling on Easy Jet or the fact that she became upset when the crew ran out of sandwiches (not salads), which was only made worse when she spotted a flight attendant eating pasta on her break.  And focus on this…


Moss called the pilot a “basic bitch” as police escorted her from the plane.


Calling a pilot a bitch, or telling them to F off (as one passenger did on one of my flights years ago), is one way to get kicked off a plane.  The Captain makes the final call when there’s a problem.  Doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks.  It’s their call. The Captain’s plane. Now back to Moss.


“But she was not aggressive to anyone and was funny really, the Easy Jet crew was acting out of proportion,” a passenger said. “She was a little drunk and had a disagreement with another passenger on the flight as she was refused alcohol and then went to serve her own vodka from her cabin luggage.”


That last bit about grabbing her own vodka is probably what got her in trouble. Passengers can’t drink their own liquor in flight.  When they do, we ask them to stop.  When they don’t, we have a problem.  When we have a problem, authorities are called to meet the flight.


Some airlines will allow passengers to bring their own alcohol on board to drink, but flight attendants have to keep it in the galley and pour it for them. We’re like bartenders.  We’re responsible for what happens to passengers during and after a flight. Somebody has to be the gatekeeper. Somebody has to step up and say when enough is enough.That’s why so many airlines don’t allow passengers to drink their own booze on board, why we don’t automatically serve free drinks when there’s a delay, and why we’ll cut people off if we feel they’ve had enough. It sounds like might have happened to Kate Moss right before she went to grab her own stash.  But I don’t know.  I wasn’t there.


What I do know is airplane food isn’t worth getting upset over.  I also know it’s a huge deal for flight attendants to walk off a flight, have a passenger removed, or call the authorities to meet the plane.  Nobody wants to go in on a day off to talk to a manager about who made that call. Nobody wants to cost the airline money by taking a delay, diverting a flight, or bringing an airline bad press simply because a celebrity was involved in a story that went viral, like this one did.  Really, we do not enjoy rocking the boat – or in this case, the plane – but sometimes we have to. There’s no calling the cops or the fire department or an ambulance at 35,000 feet, which is why we always like to take care of potential problems on the ground    


4114847529_2669115f3a_m In the air it’s not always possible for a few of us to keep tabs on so many of you, so some people do squeak by. For instance, after serving a very large first class passenger not THAT many Jack and Cokes, we couldn’t stop him from coming into the galley and eating leftover shrimp tails (garbage) he picked off used passenger meal trays we were stacking back inside the carts after the dinner service. Then there was the elderly woman who drank four vodkas within an hour after takeoff.  I had no idea my coworker had just served the sweet old lady a double when she flagged me down and asked for “two of those cute little bottles.” Once we realized our mistake, it was too late. She was attempting to christen the entire coach cabin with water from the lav on her dripping hands. My all time favorite was the sharply dressed man who took a seat in the exit row after staggering onto the plane with an open container of alcohol. of all the seats the guy could sit in… I asked him to hand it over, but instead of doing as told, he guzzled it down and burped in my face. Then he wanted to argue about why he couldn’t bring his own booze on board. As I was reminding him that most businesses don’t allow open containers of liquor, he passed out, head smack against the tray table.  


Is that who you want to sit next to on a five hour flight?  Is that who you want helping you in case there’s an emergency?  The guy who used your seat back pocket as an air sick bag? The woman who locked herself in the one and only first class bathroom for three hours


Didn’t think so. 


This is where some people will suggest airlines should stop serving alcohol.  I don’t think that’s the answer.  Why punish everyone when only a few can’t handle it. Moderation is key. Plus, it takes the edge off people who are — because of delays, seat recliners, zero leg room — in great need of losing that edge. 


Some people might find it hard to believe but flight attendants aren’t afraid to cut people off. Some people assume first class gets a free pass. That’s not true.  Not even if you’re Kate Moss. But how you cut them off is important.  I try to do it as respectfully and quietly as possible to avoid any embarrassment.  But I have no problem having them handcuffed if they mistake my kindness for weakness.

Depending on our rapport, I might come right out and tell a passenger who’s had one too many that that’s it, the last one, enjoy.  Other times I might serve a passenger a glass of very little Jack with a whole lot of Coke.  Mostly Coke.  All Coke.  With maybe just a tiny bit of Jack rubbed around the rim of the glass.  Sometimes It’s just easier saying we ran out of alcohol.  But sometimes we really do run out so don’t assume we think you have a problem when we tell you that.  Another tactic is to just disappear.  Hide.  On one occasion I became the most forgetful flight attendant on earth.  “I’m so sorry I forgot your drink,” I said. Then I promised to be right back, with no intention of ever returning. Anything to keep the situation under control.  


My job is to keep the cabin calm.  The best way to do that is to ensure things don’t escalate and somebody goes off in handcuffs.   Sometimes that means I cut people off before they start calling the Captain names. 

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