JAL Flight Attendant Drank Bottle of Champagne In-Flight, Investigation Reveals
An internal investigation conducted by Japan Airlines, the second largest airline in Japan, concluded that a flight attendant on a recent flight who failed two breathalyzer tests had consumed champagne while on duty during a flight. This incident, which occurred earlier this month on a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu, is one of three high-profile incidents involving JAL crew members being intoxicated while on duty in the past few months. In response to the recent incidents involving intoxicated crew members, JAL will take a variety of steps to ensure these incidents do not happen again.
The incident was initially reported as having been the result of the flight attendant using mouthwash multiple times during the flight. A report from The Japan Times noted that three additional crew members reported smelling alcohol on the flight attendant's breath and four crew members reported that the flight attendant was acting unusual during the flight. The flight attendant is reported to have taken a breathalyzer test prior to the flight's departure with the test turning up negative. She later tested positive for alcohol consumption in two different breathalyzer tests in-flight, with readings ranging from 0.10 to 0.15 mg of alcohol per liter of blood. While there is no nationally set legal limit for on-duty flight crew in Japan, airlines set these limits independently. As a result of testing positive for alcohol consumption in-flight, the flight attendant was removed from duty for the remainder of the flight.
While the flight attendant claimed she tested positive for alcohol consumption due to the use of mouthwash during the flight, an internal investigation found an "unserved" bottle of champagne in one of the galleys. The internal report notes that the empty 200ml bottle of champagne is typically reserved for premium economy passengers and was not served in-flight. The empty bottle combined with the flight attendant's blood-alcohol level and reports from other crew members led to the conclusion that the flight attendant had indeed consumed alcohol while on-duty. The report also notes that the flight attendant had likely consumed alcohol while on-duty during a flight in November of 2017.
The incident is the second in just three months involving on-duty JAL crew members testing positive for alcohol consumption. The most serious incident took place in late October when a pilot scheduled to work a flight between London-Heathrow (LHR) and Tokyo-Haneda (HND) failed a breathalyzer test just 50 minutes prior to departure. The breathalyzer test found that the pilot was 10x over the legal limit in the UK. The flight to Tokyo was delayed and the pilot was removed from service. He pled guilty to being intoxicated while attempting to fly a commercial aircraft and is serving a 10-month prison sentence.
Japan Airlines has responded to the recent incidents with the heads of the airline's cabin attendants division taking salary deductions for one month. Additionally, Japan Airlines requested at an end-of-the-year party that all of its employees refrain from drinking for the rest of the year.
While encouraging its employees not to consume alcohol for the next few days might not seem that significant, Japan's transport ministry has sent a business improvement order to Japan Airlines, the airline's first improvement order since 2005. Japan Airlines and other Japanese-based airlines have recently implemented mandatory alcohol tests and new legal limits.
H/T: The Independent