This story is not about shaming a flight attendant who has an alcohol problem. Nor is it to poke any sort of fun about a very sad issue. But it is to commend Qantas for doing the right thing.
A Qantas flight attendant with 31 years of good service was caught drinking vodka from the business class galley on a Qantas flight from Sydney to Johannesburg. In order to avoid detection, she had quickly gulped it down, but became visibly intoxicated and was taken out of duty by her fellow flight attendants.
When the flight landed in South Africa, she failed a breathalyzer test.
After an internal investigation, Qantas fired her on the grounds that she was derelict in her safety-critical role and because she consumed alcohol which belonged to her employer. She also initially lied about the source of the alcohol, claiming she had purchased it in a duty-free shop.
She appealed her dismissal, arguing that her dismissal was disproportionate to the crime after 31 years of blameless service. But the Australian Fair Work Commission dismissed her claim.
And that was the right move.
As the commission stated, the no-tolerance alcohol policy and swift termination provides “a degree of comfort that should an emergency arise the aircraft crew will not be under the influence of alcohol in responding to an emergency”.
Flight attendants consistently remind us that they are here for our safety. Placed in such a position of trust, there is no other viable response but an immediate termination. It sends a clear message that onboard drinking (and theft) will not be tolerated. It also comforts passengers.
I hope the flight attendant has sought the help she needs.