Julianne March, 49, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, finds herself out of a job and facing misdemeanor charges after becoming so drunk on the job she was unable to perform basic flight attendant duties.
Passengers immediately noted something was wrong when March refused to make eye contact with passengers while boarding, then slurred her words during pre-flight announcements and stumbled while walking down the aisle, bumping into several passengers.
But what really gave it away was that she started but was unable to finish the pre-flight safety briefing. Instead, she slumped over in her seat, passing out for the remainder of the flight. Multiple calls from the flight deck, a standard part of the pre-flight safety sequence, were not answered. She did not even fasten her seatbelt: another passenger did it for her.
The particularly scary aspect was that this was a 50-seat regional jet and she was the sole flight attendant on the flight. This incident occurred on United flight 4849, from Chicago (ORD) to South Bend (SBN) on August 02, 2019.
One passenger tweeted to United:
Hey @united, our flight attendant appears to be quite drunk on this from from ORD to SBN. 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.
— Aaron Scherb (@aaronscherb) August 2, 2019
Police met the aircraft upon arrival in South Bend and March was immediately detained. Her BAC registered at 0.204, five times the legal limit for a flight attendant. She was booked for criminal public intoxication. She later admitted to police she had consumed two vodka chasers before work.
Flight Attendant Fired
An Air Wisconsin spokesperson said:
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.
An insider told ABC News that she was a recent hire and still a probationary flight attendant.
Meanwhile, United was quick to point the finger at Air Wisconsin:
We expect our regional carriers to take appropriate action as required when issues like these happen with their employees. Legally and with regards to regulatory agencies this is an Air Wisconsin issue.
Both statements are certainly true, but this is primarily a United, not Air Wisconsin, PR issue.
This is one of the those WOW stories…a story that ranks as one of the most harrowing intoxication incidents I have ever covered on Live and Let’s Fly. March, a name which gives me visions of the district attorney in Matlock who had the same character name (thus dating me…), has not offered her side of the story. Hopefully, she gets the help she needs…but she has forfeited her privilege to be a flight attendant.
I do have one question. When the FA did not respond to the flight deck phone call, why did they take off? Does that not also violate protocols?
First Trans States, now Air Wisconsin…
image: Aaron Scherb / Twitter