Drunk easyJet flight attendant escorted off plane by police

Woman was three times over legal limit

Helen Coffey@LenniCoffey
Thursday 05 September 2019 12:44

An easyJet cabin manager who had to be escorted off a flight by police after drinking too much has been given a conditional discharge.

Julie Birkett, a 48-year-old flight attendant, was found to be three times over the legal alcohol limit for cabin crew on the service from Alicante to Newcastle on 10 August.

Police removed her from the flight and arrested her for performing an aviation function while unfit through drink, a charge she pleaded guilty to at North Tyneside Magistrates’ Court, reports the Daily Mail.

Air traffic control had alerted the authorities as they believed she had “been drinking onboard the aircraft”.

The court heard that Ms Birkett had 26 micrograms of alcohol in 100ml when breathalysed – the legal limit for active cabin crew is nine micrograms.

Ms Birkett claimed a colleague had given her a drink during the changeover, and that she had not known how much alcohol was in it.

Her defence argued that Ms Birkett has no previous convictions, having worked as a flight attendant for Virgin and easyJet for more than 20 years.

“This was an error of judgement which has led to her having to tender her resignation,” said Christian Harbinson, defending.

Birkett, who no longer works for easyJet, was given a 12-month conditional discharge and must pay £85 in court costs plus a £21 victim surcharge.

An easyJet spokesperson said: “We can confirm that flight EZY6420 from Alicante to Newcastle was met by police at the request of the captain.

“A crew member was arrested, subsequently charged and no longer works for easyJet.

“EasyJet has a zero tolerance policy on drugs and alcohol and our rules and regulations are very clear. The safety of our passengers and crew is our highest priority.”

It’s not the first time an airline employee has been found over the limit.

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In January, a Japanese pilot delayed five flights when he was found to be over the limit before boarding, All Nippon Airways (ANA) said.

The captain was due to serve domestic flight NH501 from Osaka Itami in central Japan to Miyazaki, a city on the southern island of Kyushu.

During a pre-boarding inspection, the crew member of ANA Wings, an affiliate airline of ANA, tested positively for alcohol.

As a result, the airline had to switch crew, which delayed five flights in total.

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