Alaska Airlines management has postponed implementation of the “same calendar day cutoff” alcohol policy
In case you missed the big news in Bulletin 2015-0103 “Alcohol Policy Revisited,” Alaska Airlines Inflight management has postponed implementation of the recently announced “same calendar day cutoff” alcohol policy! The Master Executive Council (MEC) thanks management for taking the additional time to understand the impact of such a policy on our flight attendants. We are also so appreciative of our members’ efforts to engage management regarding this important issue.
AFA research indicates there is no FAA recommendation justifying the proposed policy
There are a few points of clarification that we would like to make in regards to the “same calendar day cutoff” policy. All along management has been referencing a nebulous FAA “recommendation” as justification for the same calendar day policy. AFA research indicates that no such recommendation exists.
Background on alcohol consumption CFRs and Company policy
It is true that at one point in history (prior to the mid-‘90s) Alaska flight attendants operated under such a rule, which currently is applied only to the Alaska pilots, Horizon flight attendants and Horizon pilots. However, 14 CFR 91.17 clearly indicates that pilots are prohibited from consuming alcohol within 8 hours of operating or attempting to operate an aircraft. Flight attendants and dispatchers are also prohibited from consuming alcohol within eight hours of duty. Mechanics may not consume alcohol within four hours of duty. (Yes, four!) You may find it interesting that current Company policy for pilots is the greater of same calendar day or ten hours, flight attendants and dispatchers is ten hours (two hours more than CFRs) and mechanics is eight hours (four hours more than CFRs).
FAA’s “suggestion” of 24 hours free from alcohol
Inflight writes in Bulletin 2015-0103 “the FAA suggests 24 hours free from alcohol.” This is the only reference that AFA could verify as actually coming from the FAA. Check out the pilot safety brochure entitled “Alcohol and Flying: A Deadly Combination.” This document in no way references flight attendants and also is not specifically targeted at commercial aviation. You will notice it is in the same list of brochures as “Sunglasses for Pilots: Beyond the Image.” The actual “recommendation” is as follows:
As a minimum, adhere to all the guidelines of FAR 91.17:
- 8 hours from “bottle to throttle”
- do not fly while under the influence of alcohol
- do not fly while using any drug that may adversely affect safety
A more conservative approach is to wait 24 hours from the last use of alcohol before flying. This is especially true if intoxication occurred or if you plan to fly IFR. Cold showers, drinking black coffee, or breathing 100% oxygen cannot speed up the elimination of alcohol from the body.
As safety professionals, AFA supports the concept that pilots should err on the side of caution. However, we do not believe this “more conservative approach” is an official mandate from the FAA that all crewmembers in commercial aviation should abstain from alcohol use for 24 hours prior to duty. Taken in context, the FAA is simply telling pilots to adhere to the CFR and to use alcohol responsibly.
AFA is committed to developing a better reporting system for alcohol-related concerns and vehemently opposes further tightening of the current “10 hour cutoff”
Now you have all the facts, as we know them. Going forward, AFA is committed to working with management on developing a better reporting system for alcohol-related concerns that both maximizes our culture of safety and recognizes the modern understanding of substance abuse and addiction. We also remain vehemently opposed to any further tightening of the current “10 hour cutoff.” The MEC has reevaluated our initial conclusion that we cannot grieve a Company policy and AFA will definitely file a grievance on this issue if the situation warrants.
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Your MEC—Jeffrey Peterson, Brian Palmer, Yvette Gesch, Becky Strachan, Laura Masserant, Cathy Gwynn, Sandra Morrow and Stephen Couckuyt; and MEC EAP/CIRP/PS co-chairpersons Elizabeth Dillon and Jeanne McCleave