Delta Flight Cancelled When The Captain Was Arrested For Intoxication, Passengers Entitled To $666 Each

An already-boarded Delta Air Lines flight from Edinburgh, Scotland to New York JFK was cancelled on Friday when the 61 year old captain was arrested on charges stemming from intoxication either with alcohol or drugs.

  • About 35 minutes prior to departure, with passengers on board, one of the flight’s pilots was arrested under the Railways and Transport Safety Act 2003 dealing with air crew intoxication. The incident has been confirmed both by Delta and by Police Scotland. This pilot had more than 1,500 hours of flying time.

  • Under the U.K.’s Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 (their version of EU261), a passenger would be entitled to over approximately $666 in compensation for the cancellation, based on the distance of the flight and length of delay – but they would have to know this and claim it.

In 2019 United pilots flying out of Glasgow to Newark were arrested on intoxication charges and a fully-boarded Delta flight from Minneapolis was cancelled due to an intoxicated pilot. Of course United flight from London was also once delayed to remove a drunk air marshal.

Air travel can be a difficult career and drinking and other substance problems get hidden. Pilots with substance abuse problems are often wary of speaking up and seeking help, for fear of being sidelined, despite programs designed to encourage them to do so.

Pilots hide not just alcohol abuse but mental health conditions and that points to a fundamental conundrum: you want pilots to be open and seek help in order to promote safety, but once they’re open they’re a clearly identified risk and get removed from the cockpit. So the consequences of being open discourage that openness. Or at least that’s the fear many pilots have, not trusting any commitments to help rather than punish.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. What the F does having more than 1500 hours have to do with Anything regarding intoxication? By the way, holding an unrestricted ATP certificate has been a requirement of the FAA for his position in this story for many, many years and the minimum time to hold an ATP (1500 hours) has been the requirement for decades. If you really want to get into the minor details, airlines wouldn’t even touch a pilot with less that 3-4000 hours until it finally created a problem for them (i.e. people quit prioritizing airline careers because of their high entry requirements and shit pay). They created this problem.

  2. The story laying out the facts could surely be improved by knowing just what happened so far into the process to get this guy arrested.

  3. Do you have to be an EU citizen to file a compensation complaint for a flight originating in the EU?
    I’ve been abandoned by Lufthansa several times on United award tickets. United points to Lufthansa as the responsible party and Lufthansa just says %#& off as United award flyers are zero revenue for Lufthansa. As of now I’m thinking of suing both in small claims court for the cash tickets I have/had to purchase to make the portion of the award flight that they canceled. (United had no acceptable rebooking options within 3 days).
    AA has the same problem with BA

  4. Scary thought, eh? Maybe it’s time to consider breathalyzers in all modes of public transportation.

  5. I wonder if Tim Dunn will show up claiming this is evidence of Delta’s superior product 🙂

  6. I agree with fr8dawg. There’s no reason I can think of to mention the allegedly impaired pilot’s hours.
    jsn55 also had a good point. This story is very light on facts. How did this pilot get through the operations office and past the agents working the flight without anyone noticing his/her condition?

  7. Someone obviously made up the $666 refund, which signifies the number of the Devil.

  8. There are a lot of health problems a pilot should be screened for since it’s a big safety-related profession. Not only for physical health but very important mental health which includes alcoholism, depression, to family issues such as divorce and financial problems.

  9. Most pilots flying in and out of the UK for awhile know to be extra conservative with their intake with dinner the night prior since the legal limit is 1/2 the FAA limit.

  10. My week is just fine.
    A few more facts and less sermonizing would be helpful. Oh wait. There are no more facts available

    And United has a flight cancel due to an intoxicated crew member. On top of whatever the feds did

  11. Thank God this guy had 1500 hours…otherwise he’d be unfit to be an airline pilot/ALPA whiner

  12. so what was the problem w/ the United pilots that clipped the wing of a Delta plane in Boston?

  13. Tim

    Inaccurate just like the rest of you bloviating. The United pilots clipped Delta’s tail. Get it straight, they were just showing who owns EWR!

  14. Tony N stated that the $666 was made up for some devilish reason. It’s simpler than that, the actual refund value is €600 and that translates roughly to $666, depending upon the exchange rate on the day.

  15. CecilO
    The incident this week was in Boston not Newark.
    And if you or any United pilots think piloting an aircraft is a contact sport, you both need to be drug tested

  16. who cares?
    Delta pilots have been drunk in the cockpit for decades.
    Publish the douch bags name and move on.

  17. The main problem with EU261 is that airlines play many games to get rid of you, even when they are legally liable.

    261 needs to be amended or upgraded so that there is an easy channel to lodge complaints against airlines who do not follow the regulation with severe penalties if they are found to have caused undue hardship in meeting their regulatory liability.

    United is a poster child of an airline that plays a lot of games with this and it is virtually impossible to get them to pay anything out without going through excessive paperwork, middlemen or lawsuits.

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