United Tightens Employee Rules for Pre-Flight Drinking

Aug 14, 2019

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United Airlines pilots and cabin crew members are going to have to lay off the sauce an extra four hours before their duty clock starts, based on new rules distributed to employees this week.

According to an internal email reviewed by TPG, starting Aug. 17, flight attendants will be barred from consuming any alcohol less than 12 hours before their shift starts. Previously, they could partake up to eight hours before flying. The email notes that cabin crews must abide by local laws when they are stricter than the airline’s policy.

“Countries outside of the United States have different policies, which include a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.00% and punishment criteria,” the memo to flight attendants said in part.

The parallel change for pilots was first reported by Skift on Monday.

A United 767 taking off at Newark airport, October 2017 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)
A United 767 taking off at Newark airport, October 2017 (Photo by Alberto Riva/TPG)

Two of United’s pilots were arrested in Glasgow, UK, last week after failing a pre-flight breathalyzer test.

As for the other US major carriers, American Airlines said in an email its policy is in line with FAA regulations, which require a minimum of eight hours between alcohol consumption and reporting for duty. The airline has no plans to extend that window. Delta Air Lines also follows the eight hour rule.

Southwest representatives told Time magazine the airline is not considering changes to its own eight hour policy.

Featured photo of a United Boeing 777 at Newark airport by Alberto Riva/TPG

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