Flight Attendant Reveals The Embarrassing Reason To Stop Drinking At Airports

You're at the airport waiting for your departure. Maybe you're a nervous flier and want to relax. Perhaps you're heading home from a stressful work trip. You grab a seat at an airport bar, snack on some pretzels, and order a glass of wine. Flight suddenly delayed? You have another drink. Suddenly you're at the gate, boarding the plane, and you're a bit unsteady on your feet. When you're greeted by the flight attendant, they seem concerned, and soon you're being escorted back into the airport for appearing intoxicated. How did it all go wrong? 


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♬ original sound – traveling.mermaidd

A flight attendant with the handle @traveling.mermaidd posted a TikTok video warning people not to drink before getting on the plane, or at least to keep it from being noticeable, because they're "legally required to kick you off the airplane if you appear to be intoxicated." We reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and received this statement from them. "FAA regulations prohibit airlines from allowing anyone who appears to be intoxicated to board, and from serving alcohol to anyone who appears to be intoxicated," they said, confirming the TikToker's claim. "They also prohibit passengers from consuming alcohol that isn't served by a flight attendant. The FAA has a zero-tolerance policy toward unruly passengers. Failing to obey a flight attendant's instructions constitutes interfering with a crewmember." It's a really good reason to skip the hooch before you board, and it's not the only one. 


Why the flight attendant's advice is important

The FAA reported 2,075 incidents of unruly passengers in 2023, and "unruly" can include intoxication. As the TikToker says, flight attendants will do what they are required to do to avoid an incident on their flight. In addition, no one wants to clean up after a sick passenger (especially because you'll hardly find barf bags on planes anymore). Plus, if you've had enough to appear drunk, you probably smell like alcohol as well, which isn't going to make fellow passengers happy. 


Getting intoxicated can happen quicker than you think, especially when you're too tired from another flight or an early morning departure to realize what's happening. Though every body is different, it doesn't take that long to become intoxicated. Your weight and how quickly your body processes alcohol is a factor, and as an example from Mobile IV Nurses, a woman who weighs 120 pounds could be impaired after consuming two drinks in one hour, while a 140-pound man would probably need three drinks in the same time span. Other factors are how much you've eaten recently, and the speed with which you drink. It's embarrassing to be kicked off a plane, but if you manage to stay on the flight and cause an issue, you should know that the FAA reports the worst cases of unruly passengers to the FBI. You could face criminal charges and up to $37,000 in fines.


What to drink instead and alternatives to using alcohol for stress

Before you board, skip the booze and have a ginger ale or other soda instead. Carbonated beverages in general are a drink to avoid while you're in the air, as they can upset your stomach, but you can have one while you're still on the ground. Water is a great idea beforehand as well, as it's another common beverage to avoid in-flight. A 2019 study showed that water tanks on planes can contain harmful bacteria like E. coli (meaning the coffee and tea on board are a no-no as well), so have it in the airport or purchase some to bring on board. Even on the plane, it's not a great idea to drink alcohol as it can dehydrate you and make you feel terrible. Wait until you reach your destination or vacation spot, where you can really relax. 


If nervous flying is your issue, there are other things you can do instead of self-medicate with a drink. A bit of meditation or focused mindful breathing can help calm your nerves. Many airlines have meditation or relaxation programming on the flight, like JetBlue's Open partnership meditations. Before you board, though, you can use a mindfulness app like Calm or Headspace to do some guided breathing. If anxiety is causing you to turn to things like alcohol to relax before a flight, it may be worth consulting a psychologist for help and guidance.