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United Airlines Now Tells Pilots No Drinking for 12 Hours Before Shift Starts

In a notable change of policy amongst US operators, United Airlines is now requiring Flight Crew stop drinking alcohol 12 hours before sign-on, from the previous 8. This comes after a crew failed an alcohol breath test in Scotland a week ago. ( More...

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Cansojr 9
Some charter and cargo companies are pretty strict. A friend of mine flies 757 and 767s for a CANADIAN company it's rules are 24ours from bottle to throttle. He said violation of the policy would be instant termination. He added no more hangovers with kids around. The remuneration was excellent and didn't want to risk that either.
matt jensen 3
That's our rule also
Viv Pike 16
A "typical" rule is the 24/7 rule. If you have consumed in the last 24 hours, don't come within 7 meters of the plane.
MSReed 3
My early life, when my family traveled very frequently, with my parents as the pilots, was always scheduled rigorously around those 24 hours between bottle and throttle. Might have something to do with my being able to have a later life.
Cansojr 2
Eric Schmaltz 18
As someone who struggled with alcohol I can only hope that people in general and especially pilots would just quit drinking that crap. 5 years self medicating and I was too screwed up to see that the alcohol was the problem. Years of my life wasted. I will NEVER visit that dark place again. My wife says she has her husband back. Join me.
Jim Ries 5
I'm glad you saw the light. Keep it up.
I agree with you!
Our rule in the UK for our company is 48 hours, with random company breathtests before flight, any
failure of the breathaliser would result in police being called and instant termination.
bbabis 2
You'd have to be leery of using mouthwash with those rules. The smell must be terrible in the cockpits.
SamArnold 1
Mouthwash won't put alcohol in your bloodstream, so it's fine.
bbabis 1
It will sure put it in your breath on a test before flight. Mouth alcohol will usually dissipate in 15 - 30 minutes so you probably are safe unless you do a quick refresh just before the gate. To be perfectly safe it would be best to use an alcohol free mouthwash.
SamArnold 1
But you can't be removed or charged based on breath alcohol. They would need to perform a conclusive blood alcohol test before law enforcement can act.
Admittedly, having to go thru the process of a blood sample could take valuable time if you're on a deadline to get to the aircraft for duty, so as you say it's safer to use alcohol free wash 👍
Ken Pardiac 3
Eight hours is fine. Just don't show up to a flight unless you have 0 BAC because zero is zero no matter how long ago your last drink was.
Peter Steitz 3
In the Air Force back in the 70's, we had a joke rule. The standard was "no drinking within 8 hours of flight and no smoking within 8 feet of the aircraft".

We reversed that to "no drinking within 8 feet of the aircraft and no smoking within 8 hours of flight". This was obviously a joke that was not real.

I see lots of you use the phrase "bottle to throttle". That's an old military coined phrase.

As a former airline Captain, my company increased the no alcohol rule to 12 hours. I believe some had the no alcohol rule from duty sign in to duty sign out even on a 4 day trip.

We never sat at the airport bar while on duty, in uniform, even if you were just having a coffee. We always ate at the table and usually with other crew. Coffee, tea and water were the norm. After duty hours? Out of uniform? Sure. A couple of beers or glasses of wine at dinner was a good way to relax, always observing your company rule.

You would be in real trouble if you stayed in the 12 hour rule and still drank 8 vodkas and had to fly the next morning. Flight Attendants, ground crew, Air Traffic Controllers are also under some strict rules.

patrick baker 3
twelve hours is not close to adequate a no-drinking prohibition in my experience. No matter how fast the liver gets rid of the alcohol, the universal safe/smart rule would be 24 hours, period.
Brian Bishop 3
Very reasonable for the level of responsibility (and potential liability to the airline)
The Army has always said 12 hours between bottle and throttle OR any residual effects - beer breath, groggy etc
I don't think this rule would or should prove to be a problem for any pilot..most people,even drinkers,do not realize that the smell of alcohol,partiularly sweeter alcohol like bourbon,goes into your system and stays there for a does not mysteriously disappear because of mouthwash or sleeping for a few hours...
ADXbear 2
How about no drinking day of scheduled flight
My 6am flight is gonna be fun if the pilots getting sloshed at 11pm the night before. coz.. that's not the day of the flight
Brian Ostrom 1
12 hours from the bottle to the throttle, seems to me that is an old USAF saying.
siriusloon 4
In the bad ol' days, it was no beer within 10 feet of the airplane. :-)
Brian Ostrom 2
No smoking within 12 hours and no drinking within 100’ of the aircraft.
Marine Corps started it first (wink)
john kilcher 1
Iain Girling 1
RAF the same in the 70’s
Larry Toler 3
When I flew for Trans States, our rule was 12 hours when I started in 2003. When I was in the USAF back in the early '90's I don't thunk many of our MAC crews follewed the 12 hour rule.
Ken Lane 2
In a safety meeting the other night I discussed how one should have personal standards in all aspects of aircraft operations. This is no exception.

It shouldn't take a company policy or regulation to require one to exercise common sense.
bbabis 2
Kind of a knee jerk reaction. This is a people problem and not a rules problem.
Ken Lane 3
When people cannot live by rules governed by common sense, a time comes when others must make a rule to be enforced with consequences.
bbabis 1
You are half right. The new rules will change nothing. Enforcing consequences may cause change.
Ken Pardiac 1
The old rule had consequences too. It wasn't legal to fly intoxicated.
Ken Lane 1
Yes. And, far too many also ignored that (b) paragraph.

Regardless, this isn't that uncommon. It is in place with more than a few certified operations.
A requirement wich is implemented within Germany’s largest airline for fifty years and longer.
I’m sorry to hear that there are different regulations in an organization like Star Alliance.
My AF flying days it was always 12 hours bottle to throttle
Markus Wolff 1
Ohhh, now you tell us!
Wise decision.
M Diesel 1
These rules are SO stupid. Why not 6 hours per 1oz drink or beer? I wouldn't want to down 6 highballs, and then try to pilot even after 24 hours. On the other hand, why not six hours after only ONE beer?

FYI: When I was younger, I did an experiment. I got my pilot friend Jerry to be P.I.C from the right seat and tried to fly my familiar 172 from the left seat after ONLY ONE BEER. I was amazed to find that I could not execute a simple turn, maintain altitude, and still roll out on the right heading. (I could only do 2 of the 3!) ONE DRINK, and I then I weighed 240 pounds! 4

I would have thought NOTHING about driving after 1 beer and doubt that it would have measurably impacted my driving skills. But we drive in FLATLAND. The sky adds a third dimension and a whole level of complexity that requires more CPU cycles than one beer will allow us to process.

Those guys in Scotland should get 30 days in jail - 30 days sentence for EACH passenger booked on the flight to be served CONSECUTIVELY!
the max sentence for manslaughter, or close to it.
TWA55 1
Boy that makes me feel safer. Not enough
United has had a 24, 12, 8 and now back to 12 hour GUIDELINE always biased on ones body weight, and local country rules. Alcohol is the only legal recreational drug pilots can and will participate with so having company guidelines and a personal breath analyzer to check yourself and crew before leaving the hotel are a must in an international environment. Know the local limits. If someone blows above the local limit, then call in sick. No harm no foul. CAPTAINS: some of us have been implicated with FAA action when a crew member is considered drunk, so don’t penetrate the airport security boundaries with any questionable alcohol levels.
Peter Steitz 1
I'll chime in here with a real story.

A passenger accused me of being drunk. The ONLY recourse is to get out of the aircraft, call company and let your union legal know. I made myself available for a blood test but company never made me to go. BTW, I was perfectly legal to fly.

This is a case of guilty until proven innocent.

The breath test is not conclusive. Pilots need to require a blood test.
SamArnold 1
How would a passenger notice your level of cognition if you're locked in the cockpit?
Peter Steitz 1
They see you at the gate. They see you walk in. The cockpit door is also open until the FA says cabin is ready.

When you are in an airport, in uniform. you are under scrutiny.
Do you think that the airlines are going to have a WEED problem in the future flying out of California and Colorado ?
It's going to be an interesting time with pot becoming more accecptable, and now even being used as medicinal. not just in the airline industry, but well all around. Have you seen at Walt Disney World a grandmother was arrested for CBD oil that had traces of THC. And a CM was fired for having CBD Oil. Both are over the counter items available in Florida supermarkets!
CBD oil has no trace of THC.If it was detected then iot was ADDED after the sell.
also incluide the other 9 states whee it is legal no problem they have drug screening and smoking pot is not a condition of the job
sharon bias 1
Breathalyzer's are cheap! $130.00 each on Amazon. Make the pilots blow one at the beginning of their day, and again if they have more than 2 hours between flights. That will probably catch the hidden alcoholics. Wouldn't hurt to put a few at the gates to catch passengers that shouldn't be flying too. If the airlines decides a drunk passenger can fly, at least they can be told no more booze on the airplane. I've seen more than one passenger heading for the parking garage after they have staggered down the plane ramp.


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