American Airlines stewardess, 64, was 4 times over the drink-fly limit

American Airlines stewardess, 64, who was four times over the drink-fly alcohol limit when police stopped her just moments before she boarded a flight from Heathrow is ordered to pay £1,000

  • Cynthia Struble, 64, from Dallas Texas was four-times over the drink-fly limit
  • She was stopped moments before boarding a flight from Heathrow 
  • She was found guilty of being over the limit whilst performing an ancillary activity to aviation function
  • She had  93mg of alcohol in 100ml of blood – the legal limit for air crew is 20mg

American Airlines cabin crew Cynthia Struble, 64, was too intoxicated to legally drive

An air stewardess who was more than four times over the drink-fly limit has been fined after she was stopped by police just minutes before boarding her flight at Heathrow.

American Airlines cabin crew Cynthia Struble, 64, was so intoxicated she would have failed a drink-drive breathalyser, a much less strict test.

She was arrested as she was about to step on a morning flight out of Heathrow Airport.

It was when her bag was rejected at the X-ray machine screening that the security officer spoke to her and noticed the smell of alcohol. 

The bag searcher noticed Struble, of Dallas, Texas, was intoxicated as she and colleagues passed through security control at about 9.30am on December 28 last year.

She ignored a member of security who asked her to sit down, but police caught up with the American on the bridge connecting her gate and plane at Terminal 3 and tests showed she had 93 milligrams of alcohol in 100ml of blood.

The legal limit for air crew is 20 milligrams. The UK limit for drink-driving is 80 milligrams.

She was found guilty of a charge of being over the limit whilst performing an ancillary activity to aviation function, after a trial which she did not attend at Uxbridge Magistrates’ Court today.

Struble entered a not guilty plea in person at the court at a hearing last month.

Chairman of the bench Philip Newton today fined her £660, and ordered her pay £320 prosecution costs and £66 victim surcharge.

He rejected her defence lawyer David Sonn’s claims that there was ‘no evidence at all’ in the case, saying it was ‘beyond reasonable doubt’ that Struble was turning up for work at the time.

Mr Newton noted she was in full uniform, passed through security with colleagues and there could be no doubt that police arrested the right member of crew in the tunnel.

Struble’s defence lawyer argued there was no evidence she was heading to work on an aircraft – but the judge pointed out she was in full uniform and heading to the plane with colleagues

Pilots and cabin crew are prohibited from consuming alcohol within eight hours of take-off – known as the ‘bottle-to-throttle’ rule.

They are also prohibited from operating an aircraft – or in the case of cabin crew, assist in the operation of an aircraft – while under the influence of alcohol.

Some airlines and countries have a strict zero-tolerance of any alcohol in your bloodstream, but different rules apply fro country to country as to how much alcohol pilots and crew can have in their blood to be considered under the limit.

Rules in the UK (and EU) are some of the strictest in the world: the limit is 20mg of acohol per 100ml of blood.

The US law enforces a limit of 40mg.

For comparison, the UK drink-drive law only comes into effect if a person has more than 80mg of alcohol per 100ml of blood.

Referring to the fact she was caught over the limit while ‘airside’ but not having boarded the plane, he said: ‘We are satisfied so that we are sure that the defendant was performing an activity which was preparing to perform her aviation function and which shall be treated as an ancillary activity to it.

‘The bench are sure that Ms Struble was the same person at security and who was arrested. We are also sure the person was the same person reporting for duty.’

He referred to her being in uniform and going through security with other colleagues.

Earlier prosecutor Cheiran Mondal said: ‘It is irresponsible for security staff and police to be allowing someone who is suspected of drinking alcohol to be allowed on the flight in the first place – preparing food or serving food – hence in this case Ms Struble was stopped on the gate to the plane.

‘We’ve not heard from Ms Struble, she’s not here to give evidence – she doesn’t need to give evidence, she’s also a woman of good character and the court should take notice of that. The crown would maintain that’s sufficient evidence.’

Mr Sonn argued there was no case to answer after claiming it was based solely on statements from security guard Angela Klaire and PC Anthony Elsmere.

He said: ‘A member of air crew who was going through security smelt of alcohol, that’s in short the high point of the crown’s case.’

Reading from her statement, he said: ‘I asked her to sit down so I could radio my security manager.’ The security manager arrived, the female cabin crew then got a lift to get the coach.

‘The high point of the crown’s case in relation to Ms Klaire is that she searched a member of American Airlines crew – that’s all.’

He added: ‘The officer says that on the 28th December he was on duty with another at approximately 10 o’clock. He’s called to attend terminal 3, stand 342, he makes his way to the gate bridge.

Struble was ordered to pay a total of more than £1,000 

‘He is met by numerous representatives of American Airlines and he becomes aware of the presence of the defendant.

‘He explained, “the reason why we’ve been contacted, I could smell alcohol on her breath although she was able to converse, no other signs of being under the influence, she provided positive samples, she was arrested”.’

Mr Sonn said: ‘There’s no evidence that the flight was scheduled or not, or allocated or not. Literally no evidence at all.

‘There’s absolutely no evidence that there was a scheduled flight allocated but the fundamental submission if all the other are rejected is that we have to be sure that the defendant was performing an activity.

‘She was standing on her head for all we know.’

Struble was ordered to pay a total of £1,046, including a £660 fine, £66 victim surcharge and £320 costs.

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