August 09, 2019
A flight attendant has been fired and charged with misdemeanor public intoxication Thursday after failing a breathalyzer test following a flight during which she appeared intoxicated on a United Express regional jet.
Julianne March, 49, of Waukesha, was working a regional flight from Chicago O'Hare to South Bend, Indiana, on Aug. 2 when a passenger noticed she seemed impaired and tweeted about it to United.
According to the criminal complaint obtained by USA TODAY, airport officers met the plane when it landed in South Bend and questioned March.
"Officers asked her where she was; she answered 'Chicago.' Once she did finally stand, she needed to use the airplane's seats to maintain her balance," the document read, adding that she was asked multiple times if she was on any medications and answered no each time.
Flight attendant from Waukesha arrested after passenger alerts United: She appears to be quite drunk; Air Wisconsin was operating flight
The document noted the officer's observations that "March had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech, the odor of alcoholic beverages on her breath, and poor balance."
According to the affidavit, March confirmed she had consumed alcohol, informing the detaining officers that she had two "vodka shooters" before work.
The complaint also said she initially refused to take a breath analysis test but did so after being taken to the jail in St. Joseph County, Indiana, where her blood alcohol level was found to be .204. The limit for pilots, cabin crew and other "safety-sensitive" personnel is .04, according to the Federal Aviation Administration.
Passengers complained March exhibited slurred speech and coordination issues during the short flight.
"Our flight attendant appears to be quite drunk on this (flight) from ORD to SBN," passenger Aaron Scherb tweeted in a message to United. "She is slurring her speech (she couldn’t make it through the security announcement), couldn’t walk straight/was bumping into everyone in the aisle, and kept dropping things."
Air Wisconsin, which operated the United Express flight, told ABC News and The Belleview (Illinois) News-Democrat, that she has been fired.
"The flight attendant involved in this incident is no longer an employee of the company. We will continue to cooperate with local authorities and assist them as necessary," the company told ABC.
Neither United nor Air Wisconsin immediately replied to USA TODAY's request for comment. March, who was booked into the St. Joseph County Jail and released on her own recognizance the following day, has a court hearing scheduled for Aug. 29.
March's arrest occurred a day before two United pilots were detained in Scotland on suspicion of being intoxicated; one was charged this week after failing a BAL test.
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