Alaska Airlines Flight Delayed By Drunk Flight Attendant!

The Alaska Airlines Boston – Seattle flight this morning is delayed 12 hours.

Per Flyertalk the reason is a drunk flight attendant:

They report that first, the flight was delayed as everyone waited for the missing FA to show up. When she arrived, the flight was delayed >12 hours since she was drunk. 740am departure is now scheduled for 745pm. The crew was sent back to their hotel for rest (not sure what was done with the drunk one). I assume AS is deadheading an extra FA in via the 915am SEA-BOS flight to work the flight tonight.

…So far, they have magnanimously refunded checked bag fees.

By the way, as you might expect, AS is only acknowledging a “sick” flight attendant, but family reports indicate that all pax are well aware she showed up drunk (and late).

Alternate flights out of Boston today are really tough… indeed, Boston to anywhere today is tough.


About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. Wow, airlines don’t have ANY extra employees that could have filled in? Not even 1? It sounds very odd that 1 single absence could topple an entire flight. In fact, that’s downright absurd for a business whose entire mission is customer service, to not have a contingency plan.

    I think the airline is using this to hide something else.

  2. @Lindy Since this is a narrowbody, many airlines will staff in accordance with FAA-minimum staffing. Also, BOS is an outstation for AS, so they don’t have any reserve FA hanging around. In fact, it looks like they did activate the contingency plan, which is to fly in a deadhead FA to work the flight.

    Also, since this is an operational IRROP, all passengers are entitled to be rebooked onto other flights, even on other airlines.

    Still, crew members showing up for work drunk is a big no-no.

  3. Lindy, Boston is not a base for Alaska Airlines crew, therefore there would not be a reserve (on call) flight attendant immediately available as a replacement.

  4. Proof, yet again, that alcohol impairs judgement. Had she been more sober and called in sick, this would have been only a half-story. Now, she’ll most likely be fired. (I wonder if she can be held liable for the extra costs.)

    @Lindy, no doubt AS has crews on standby in SEA (main base/hub) and possibly a few other bases. But not in BOS; it doesn’t make economic sense.

    One way AS could have handled this, is by offloading enough passengers to comply with the 1:50 rule (1 FA per 50 pax). However, given the situation in BOS, those passengers could be stuck for days. Therefore it does make sense to delay the flight.

  5. The f/a “that appeared to be impaired” (none of you are qualified to say if he/she was intoxicated or under the influence of some sort of chemical) would be sent to a local hospital to be examined and tested. There a determination would be made–not in the departure lounge.

    As someone said it is probably a SEA-based crew so they would have to deadhead a replacement out from SEA. There is a chance they would have someone in DCA at at another east coast station that they could move but then that person would have to replaced. It is just not economically feasible to have spare bodies hanging out all over the world.

    If he or she WAS intoxicated it falls back to AS’s HR policies whether or not this person would be offered rehab or be terminated or what their overall employment record looks like. Every airline has different policies. In these enlightened times most give you one shot at rehab.

  6. Lindy, obviously You have No Idea of How an Airline Operates. No Airline has “extra” Staff just standing around WAITING for irregular situations. As a 35year Employee in the Industry some of You people that like to make outlandish statements need to seriously Rethink BEFORE You post Your Self contrived Nonsense. And making an allegation of Being Drunk with NO Concrete Proof could possibly be grounds for a civil lawsuit…..Think before You Sound Off…..I know it is hard for Some of You BLOWBAGS!

  7. Lol @ reece.

    To everyone else: Thankyou for the information, very interesting. I’m surprised this doesn’t happen more often.

    I do know I’ve seen flight attendants working when sick (i.e. coughing, fever, etc.). I guess this explains why they would do that even though they’re exposing so many passengers to their germs.

  8. @reece: Calm down. You sound like the protector of all FA’s out there. The FA WAS drunk. The AS gate agent confirmed (off the record). Many passengers, including myself, saw the FA and based on what I saw the simplest explanation is that she was intoxicated.
    Maybe when you get off your high horse you could try to think rationally rather than being the idiot you sound in your post.

  9. Nice attempt to ‘rationalize’ what should have been done, but You are incorrect on staffing parameters. The One per 50 applies to One F/A per every 50 seats ON the aircraft……has nothing to do with How many actual passengers are booked on the flight. Should have asked Lindy….the One who Knows NOTHING and still blogs!

  10. Idiot…? You sound like a REAL Assclown No Airline wants Onboard. Deal with It! Calm Down…..Face reality Moron! (And now go ahead and report me….Piss Ant!) Now Go Buzz off……….

  11. You cant offload passengers to meet that rule. The rule is actually based on the number of seats on an aircraft. So even if there are only 5 passengers on the plane, it still requires 4 FA’s since there are the same number of seats bolted down. In order to reduce the # of FA”s, the physcial seats would have to be removed from an AC. This is an outstation for AS, it would be the same if for example a Delta employee called out sick in Wichita… they would have to get another employee in. Not only do certain govt regulations have to be met on duty, so do the airlines labor contracts with the work group (for example a FA can not be flown from SEA-BOS to work the flight, as that would break the labor contract that AS has with its work group)… they are more then likely flying in a FA that is on a long layover in a different east coast city to replace.

  12. @Lindy,

    No offense, but you really have no idea how an airline runs. They don’t staff thousands of FA’s all over the country just to cover the one in a trillion flight where an FA shows up drunk. If they did that, it would cost $35000 to fly SEA-BOS.

    This should be common sense. I hope for your sake you don’t run a business.

  13. The FAA regulation is 1 flight attendant per 50 seats, not 50 passengers. If there is only 1 passenger on the plane, still must have FAA minimum crew. IF the story is factual, I hope the flight attendant in question gets the help she needs.

  14. from a passenger on the flight-
    Evening update, two things:

    First, gate agent said to my sister this morning that FA was drunk.

    Second, I will now agree that she was suffering from some other condition. Sister writes “Drunkie just got on the 640. The irony…she’ll get to Seattle before us….everyone’s talking about it. She got to sleep it off in the hotel while we hung on the floor of Logan.”

    So I agree she wasn’t drunk but was otherwise incapacitated.

  15. I’m glad it doesn’t seem like anyone is taking Reece seriously. Obviously anger over I’m not sure what is not making Reece’s statements that helpful or really understandable.

    It seems like the other statements are fairly accurate to the best of my knowledge. AS does have only two flights a day going into Boston and no extra reserves stationed there. Usually with some creativity from crew scheduling if a flight attendant is sick online one member from the other incoming crew can be tagged to crew the flight back to Seattle. Really hard day for that flight attendant -we’ve all been there though- where you work a sixish hour flight to a destination and then find out that you’re headed right back to where you came from. But flight attendants do that stuff for their company and passengers all the time. The problem is there are very strict FAA guidelines on rest. I’d bet anything that what happened in this situation was that since they found out so late in the game that the flight attendant was disabled that they had already released the crew coming in. Meaning they were required by law to give the flight attendants nine hours rest. Ironically, AS just shortened the debrief time flight attendants have after a flight in which they potentially can be called back into service from 30 minutes to 15. This saved the company money while costing flight attendants and also leaves the company more vulnerable to delays caused by last minute sicknesses or incidents like this one. Luckily they don’t happen that often. Again, just guessing here but they probably tried to call in flight attendants laying over in other east coast cities or who might be traveling from Boston in an effort to crew the flight. But again there are restrictions on how long the flight attendants who were not sick but yet checked in can stay waiting for their replacement flight attendant before they time out. That’s probably what happened here, they couldn’t get a flight attendant there within four hours so they had to send the rest of the crew back for rest and then back to the plane to crew it back to boston. AS is usually good at taking care of customers in this situation with miles and what not especially since a delay of that length is pretty unusual for them. It’d be interesting to hear if there was something offered to them besides just bags for free. I hope so.

  16. I stand corrected on the pax/seat ratio, thanks.

    But just to muddy the waters, I asked an AC acquaintance, and part of the answer was:

    “On the other hand our B-767-300’s have 211 seats. They can be dispatched with a minimum of 3 crew members if the load passenger load is 120 or less. On this widebody aircraft minimum crew would apply to the load and not the number of seats.”

    Is this also part of FAA rules, or is it a Canadian thing?

  17. Whether or not she was “drunk” has not been determined. I have seen F/A’s that were roofied (drugged unknowingly) act the same way. I have seen sick flight attendants seem intoxicated as well. It really isn’t our place to judge unless we are medical professionals trained to do so. Agents are not trained medical professionals and most passengers are also not.

  18. I just want to know why the passengers were told so many lies along the way. First it was crew stuck in traffic. Then the pilot announced a crew scheduling snafu. Next, mechanical failure. Then sick flight attendant. Lies lies lies.

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