Irate Passenger/Alky Hall.


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Five minutes prior to pushback you hear a slight ruckus and a passenger looks in the cockpit turns around to the flight attendant and screams "And I bet the pilots are drunk! I can smell it!"

This is said loud enough for about 1/3 of the aircraft to hear and it oviously causes a commotion.

The gate agent brings down your final paperwork and says "Oh, don't worry that guy was causing a big stink out in the terminal about not getting upgraded to first class, the numbers are correct, have a good flight"


Well-Known Member
No way you can leave without proving to this moron and everyone else that you're sober!

This is something that could backfire big time later on!

It's just unfortunate that there are ignorant people that would make such claims...


Well-Known Member
Now THIS one is interesting.

Personally, I would advise him that unless he can conduct himself in an orderly, calm manner, that I will have no option but to off load him and his luggage prior to departure. I would get a verbal agreement from him that he is willing to behave himself with no further disruption.

Unless he agrees and calms down immediately, then I would enforce a mandatory cool-down period for him at the gate until the next flight's departure, close the door and be on my way.

The last thing the Captain needs is to worry about the fact he has a disruptive, potentially violent passenger on board while he and his FO are trying to conduct a safe flight.

It sounds like he's the one who is actually drunk. How about a field sobriety test? :)



New Member
Inform him in a quiet manner if he is going to continue be disruptive to other passengers, he will regretfully have to be asked to leave the flight... Yadda yadda.

Do a super quick meet and greet with the PAX as so they can be confident you are not under the influence. Try and comfort them in any way possible, so they can have a smooth flight without having a near heart attack at every jolt of the plane in fear that ol' boozer up front is going to takem down. I would just try and play this as a normality to the passengers., not that I am trying to save face (even if that is the truth).

If the disruptive passenger in question does appear to be overly intoxicated, remove him. Otherwise, don't allow the attendants to serve him alchohol, and keep an eye on him.


Sitting in the median
I would sternly inform that passenger that unless he can control himself IMMEDIATELY then he will not be permitted to travel on this flight. Should he continue with his tirade at that point, I would without question have him removed from the flight. It is not fair to the other passengers who are behaving like decent persons in public to be forced to observe such behavior. Also, with such verbal behavior, I would have to consider that when the wheels are off the ground, he could turn physically violent. And I would not put my flight attendant(s) in that position. Especially considering Common Strategy II which means I'm not going in the back to assist in such an event.

Many people believe that air travel is a convienience, not a luxury. But I doubt that if he acted in such a way in a any other public place that such behavior would be accepted. It won't be accepted on my airplane. "I'm never flying this airline again!!" Ok, fine by me. But the rest of the passengers who have a much calmer, peaceful flight without you here will probably come back now, and that's great.


Well-Known Member
I would just be concerned that if there was an incident during the flight that the passengers may blame the 'drunk' pilot.

If I was the pilot, I would consider it too risky to have anyone in the back 'thinking' I was drunk.


New Member
If the guy is being disruptive and interfering with the FAs, he needs to go. As Captain, I'd go back, explain to him that my crew should be treated with respect, and if he couldn't do that, we'll be happy to reaccommodate him on a later flight. If he won't behave at that point, he stays in X-ville while I go on to Unibase Alpha.



New Member
I was on a GV once while it was parked at our FBO and the pilot was drinking right in front of me. I didn't do anything about it but I wonder if I should have. Sorry, that's kind of vearing off topic but it reminded me about it.


Well-Known Member
The biggest problem is not the guy who yelled out that the pilots are drunk. It is the 1/3 of the people who heard it. Approach the guy and ensure him and all of the others around him that neither you or your co-pilot have been drinking. If he or any of the people still have a problem with it, or insist that you have been, then ask them if they would like to speak with a supervisor. When the supervisor gets there and tells them that you have not been drinking and they still do not buy it, then offer to remove yourself from the plane and have new pilots step in to fly.

Yes, the guy is an idiot and should be removed from the plane but, now you have other paying passengers that may doubt your sobriety as well...ILS


Antisocial Monster
Me? I'd throw the guy off the plane right then and there, call the cops and let them deal with him. That's interfering with the crew as far as I'm concerned. Behavior like that is not needed.

After that, check the SOP to see if there is something you offically need to do if something like this happens. After that I'd call the company and ask them what they want done, be it you given a breathalizer or taken off the flight or what.


John Herreshoff


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
The biggest problem is not the guy who yelled out that the pilots are drunk. It is the 1/3 of the people who heard it.

[/ QUOTE ]

Bingo, I was just going to emphasize that.


New Member
Remember earlier this year when some idiot walked into the cockpit of a Comair CRJ and said to the pilots "I hope you guys haven't been drinking." Too bad he missed his flight and was fined $300 something dollars.... He deserved what he got!!!!!!!

I can only imagine that this dude in this scenario would get it even worse if I could help it..... I simply would not tolerate it!!!


Well-Known Member
I would make an example out of this guy. Kick him off the flight in front of everyone. Then say to the passengers about someone having questioned your sobriety, explain to them that he was vengeful about not getting upgraded to first class. and that we would need to wait in order for someone to verify that you are indeed sober. You can tell them to remember to thank the nice man who made this accusation for the delay.

deep down inside that is what i would like to do. However, to keep my job i would probably just confront the man and ask him to calm down then get a supervisor to confirm to the passengers that the crew hadn't been drinking.


New Arizona, Il Duce/Warlord
Staff member
Flyitup was actually the closest to how the airlines handle the situation.

First you're supposed to address the passenger with an 'expanded team' (another crewmember, preferably one not directly accused) to ascertain that he's making a serious allegation and that you take such accusations with grave seriousness.

If the passenger persists and does not retract his statement, go and talk to flight operations and the 'duty pilot' to explain the situation to them with as much detail as possible.

They're going to confer with flight operations, a pilot representative and perhaps an on-duty chief pilot and send an operations manager down to the jet to do a face to face assessment and determine if the pilots need to go for futher, more scientific alcohol testing.

If the operation's manager thinks you need further testing, they'll remove you from duty and conduct the tests.

If the operation's manager thinks that the passenger was full of crap and no testing is needed, then all hell can break loose by booting the passenger, etc, and let the passengers know the reason that the flight is delayed, that you're ok, but when passengers make slanderous allegations as such, we've got to adhere to company policy and follow the procedure to the "T".

Instead, if you had angrily addressed the customer, sparking more suspicion that you have been drinking AND rowdy, if you even have a less than perfect landing, it's going to be all over the media faster than you can swipe a credit card on the seatback AirPhone. Or worse yet, even live on the news where Joe Six Pack is talking live to Channel Six aboard a passenger jet with pilots that are rumored to be drunk.

Oh man, imagine the media circus that you'll see on arrival.


Well-Known Member
If its obvious that he's irate and causing a commotion, I think the 1/3 of the passengers that heard his comments would question his sobrity before before they would question mine. I don't think they'll just assume I'm drunk becasue some obvioudly upset passenger made an unfounded accusation. I'm more worried about about this person causing a serious problem in flight.

I'd probably do what I've read in other suggestions above. Tell him that if he dosn't calm dowm right away that he'd be removed from the aircraft.

On the other hand people have been removed from flights for much less serious offenses. For example, making a joke about the pilot's sobritey, not actually implicating that the pilot is intoxicated. If it does appear to me that he in fact is intoxicated, I'd remove him from the flight without giving him a warning. According to the FARs the PIC is not permitted to allow a visibly intoxicated person to board a flight unless carred for my medical personel.


Well-Known Member
This actually happened to me. A passeneger (who "appeared to have been drinking") got on in MSY (yeah Mardi Gras time - that is one horrible event.)

He leaned into the 1900 cockpit and breathed whatever rotgut he was drinking all over us and said "Hope you boys haven't been drinking! Have you been drinking?" Then he walks down the aisle saying "I sure hope them boys haven't been drinking! You know those airline pilots!"

I looked at the FO and said, "Well we aren't going anywhere for a while"

I called Ops and told them to send security and local police, and to call the company and arrange breathlyzer tests for both of us. I know this was going a little bit beyond the scope but I wanted the other passengers to know, that we were sober!

The police removed the offending passenger. I asked security to stay with us until the breathlyzer (from DOT STOP) arrived. We did the breathlyzer right on the ramp, in view of the passengers (but not in view of the terminal! If you go to MSY and see where the 1900s are you can see that this is possible. I did not want the terminal to see this going on!)

The DOT STOP guy then announced to the passengers that we were 0.0 on the alcohol scale. I took a 40 minute delay for this but my chief pilot called me to say I did the right thing.

When we landed in Jackson, and later in Little Rock, several passengers complimented us for "doing the right thing."


New Member
My non-professional opinion: He's off the plane.

And it's really nothing to do with what he said, it's how he said it. If he had walked down the jetway and jokingly said something like, "Geez I hope the pilots are sober", no harm no foul. A tasteless and inappropriate comment yes, but I'd shrug it off (and maybe make sure he doesn't get peanuts).

But, he's on the plane shouting. I might question his sobriety and I would definately question his ability to behave for the duration of the flight.

He might sue. If he did he probably wouldn't win. For the following reasons:

1. The gate agent already had witnessed him being angry he didn't get put into 1st class. So he had already established that he was not behaving correctly.

2. As the Captain I'm worried of what he'll do once we're in the air. So in effect I play the "safety of the flight card".

3. His actions could be interpreted as interferring with a flight crew, which if I'm not mistaken, is a Federal offense. So he may have criminal charges to deal with first.

I would get him off the plane and then make a PA announcement apologizing to the other passengers for the delay, and I might also go so far as to say, "we had an altercation with a passenger and he is being removed." This opens him up to lawsuits if someone say lost a business account or something because they got to their destination late. Of course he could sue the company for the same reason, but again I doubt any judge would allow the case to continue to trail.



Well-Known Member
I'd have to say:

1. Delay the flight until myself and the F/O can take a sobriety test.
2. Have the guy wait on board, so that he can (a) see the results for himself; and (b) reap the ire of the other passengers who he has delayed with his moronic comments
3. Have him escorted off the plane.

No sense arguing with the guy or telling him to calm down. Once the comment is out, it's out and the seed has been planted.

IMHO the pertinent thing to do is to address the issue immediately.


Mama Bear....
Staff member
so therein lies the question... if the pax is saying that in a joking manner and you can tell that it's joking - do you pass it off or do you follow procedure just like you would with the guy whose accusing?

reason i ask is sometimes when i'm sitting in back, i'll hear someone behind me or wherever say "hehe wonder if the pilots had a beer before the flight.. hehe"...and sometimes i wonder if i were to turn around, tell them that by saying that they could delay the flight, get kicked off, get fined or go to jail for false accusation - if that would be correct?

cuz i'm thinking the next time i hear someone joking about it (and it does happen pretty frequently), i want to say something that will get them thinking about "why they said it".. and why not to say it again - know what i mean?