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PAX forces delay...

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Well-known member
Jul 31, 2002
The Washington Times


Drunken-pilot joke delays Midwest flight
Audrey Hudson

Published 8/30/2002


MADISON, Wis. — A 20-minute United Airlines flight from Madison to Chicago was delayed for nearly 80 minutes yesterday after a passenger sarcastically asked the pilot whether he needed to be tested for alcohol or drugs.
To one witness, the woman's remark — uttered as she boarded the plane — sounded more like a smart-aleck comment than a direct challenge. A flight attendant said the woman immediately explained she was only joking.
But the pilot said it was airline policy to call the incident in. Airline officials then decided to make all the passengers disembark so the pilot could undergo drug and alcohol testing.
"She turned to the cockpit and said, 'We don't have to have you guys breathalyzed or drug tested?'" James Harbison, the plane captain, told The Washington Times. "So because an accusation has been made that I have been drinking, if something happened we would be liable. Per policy, I am required to be tested."
Both Mr. Harbison, an Annapolis resident based at Washington Dulles International Airport, and the plane's first officer tested at 0.0 percent in a blood alcohol level test. The flight continued after a 79-minute delay.
Many passengers seemed to sympathize with the pilot's predicament.
"You can't fault the pilot. He was only doing his job," Steve Crider said.
But not everyone agreed. Some said they believe the incident was bound to happen after recent well-publicized dismissals of two pilots for pre-flight drunkenness.
"It's hard to believe that this is the first time something like that has been said to a pilot," said Jim Murphy, who was transferring in Chicago to fly on to Las Vegas. "If I ran my business like this airline did, I would be in trouble. This is why they're going out of business."
The woman who made the remarks was escorted from the flight by sheriff's deputies and denied permission to continue. An FAA spokeswoman said the woman was arrested on charges of public intoxication.
A spokesman for United Airlines said they did not have information about the flight and referred calls to Atlantic Coast Airlines, which they said operated that flight. Rick DeLisi, the spokesman from Atlantic Coast Airlines, said their policy is to treat all remarks with equal seriousness.
"It's really not unlike situations we've all heard of or known of where someone makes a joke about a weapon around an airport screening area," he said. "It's just always so important to remind people there's really no way to interpret when someone's making a wisecrack or a joke versus an accusation or a threat."
United Airlines' flight-tracking system on the Internet explained the delay was "due to airport conditions."
Tina Gassen, a Madison resident on her way to Southern California to perform in a hip-hop show, thought the whole incident was overblown.
"I think it's silly," she said. "It's taking it way too far. A passing comment would stop a flight? Where does the line stop?"
Stupid broad.

They ought to make her pay for everyone's tickets and any lost revenue for the flight and any delays caused downline. She can think it over while she spends a couple days in the klink.

This business would be much bettrer without the pax. I sure wish FedEx would call....
It's unfortunate that this is all what it's boiling down to. Pretty soon, it won't be safe to open your mouth at all or even look at somebody. File em on like cattle and file em back off, shut up, stay seated, and mind your own business. I'm glad he made an example of her, but I think we'd all be pretty pi$$ed that we were delayed over a bad joke if we were there awaiting our departure.

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