Flight Attendant Drank On Duty, Faces Penalties

a large passenger jet sitting on top of a runway: Japan Airlines

A Japan Airlines (JAL) flight attendant will be penalized for drinking on duty, the company announced Tuesday, following an internal investigation.

The investigation was conducted following the 46-year-old unnamed female attendant failing two breathalyzer tests during a flight from Tokyo to Honolulu, Hawaii, on Dec. 17. The tests were carried out onboard after her co-workers smelt alcohol on her breath and reported her to the authorities.

The test results came back positive for 0.15 and 0.1 mg of alcohol, both of which violated JAL’s set alcohol limit of 0.10 mg. However, similar tests taken before she boarded the plane detected no traces of alcohol. The authorities deduced from the results that the attendant had consumed alcohol while on duty.

Investigators also found a champagne bottle that had not been served to the passengers, emptied of its contents and dumped in a trash bin on the aircraft. “An unserved bottle of champagne [170g] for Premium Economy was found empty in the galley area,” JAL said in a press release, China Daily reported. 

The flight attendant denied the accusations, adding that she had last consumed alcohol Dec. 14. Authorities said the flight attendant had repeatedly tried to rinse her mouth with mouthwash – an act that did not affect the results of the breathalyzer tests in any way.

JAL announced that in order to shoulder responsibility for the incident, the company’s president Yuji Akasaka will incur a 20 percent pay cut for a month while 10 percent will be docked off a month’s salary of Eri Abe, who is in charge of cabin crew operations.

It was not clear what kind of penalties the accused flight attendant was going to face. 

In another instance, Katsutoshi Jitsukawa, 42, a JAL pilot was sentenced to 10 months in prison after he was found to be more than nine times over the alcohol limit just before he was about to fly a commercial flight from Heathrow Airport on Oct. 28. 

“You are an experienced pilot but you had clearly been drinking for a long period up to a time shortly before you were due to go into that plane,” presiding Judge Phillip Matthews at the Isleworth Crown Court said before announcing the verdict at the time. “Most important is the safety of all persons on board that very long-haul flight, potentially 12 hours or more. Their safety was put at risk by your inebriation and drunkenness. The prospect of you taking over control of that aircraft is too appalling to contemplate. The potential consequences for those on board was catastrophic.”

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