Pilot Photographed With Beer Can Next to Him in the Cockpit

A passenger snapped a photo as he disembarked a flight and saw a beer in the cockpit.

Steve Lewis took a picture of what appeared to be a can of Stella Artois sitting next to one of the pilots while the cockpit door was open.

“The plane had landed and the seatbelt light came off. I stood up to get my suitcase and as I did the cockpit door opened and I noticed the can in the cockpit,” Lewis told the Metro. “I turned to my partner Steven, who didn’t believe me at first, but then he noticed you could clearly see the Stella branding.”

The airline, British low cost carrier Jet2, initially claimed it wasn’t their flight. The Shaggy Defense.

Then the airline claimed “the can had been given to the pilot for safe keeping.”

“Upon further investigation of the photograph, we can confirm that it is an unopened can which had been handed to a member of our cabin crew by a customer when they were leaving the aircraft,” an airline spokesperson said.

“This unopened can was then put down in the cockpit by the member of cabin crew so that she could continue helping customers as they disembarked.”

In other word but officer, it was my friend’s pot. I was just holding onto it.

While statistically rare, pilots showing up to work in violation of alcohol rules happens more than pilots and airlines would like to admit. There were 23 reported US pilot alcohol violations in 2014 and 2015.

In the last year a Canadian 737 pilot was found passed out in the cockpit and blew a .24. A United pilot showed up late in plain clothes and went on a bizarre rant though it wasn’t immediately clear whether alcohol or drugs were involved. An Indonesian pilot stumbled through security and slurred his preflight announcements before being removed from the aircraft. At Air India 30 pilots blew positive for alcohol in 3 years.

These are incidents airlines would prefer not get much play, when I first started writing the blog a customer was cited (and had to pay a fine) for asking whether their Delta Connection pilot had been drinking only two days before a Delta pilot tested positive for alcohol.

Given the significance of alcohol in the cockpit, probably not a great place to rest a beer even temporarily. That’s optics over substance to be sure but sometimes optics matter.

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 InsideFlyer.com, 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. “Given the significance of alcohol in the cockpit”.

    I’d like to add that in my eleven years as a crewmember I have never seen alcohol in the cockpit. It is something crewmembers and the airlines take very seriously. In fact, if a passenger merely jokes about a member of the crew having too much to drink, it’s grounds for testing. Flying is incredibly safe and pilots overall are very professional and to the book.

    Having said that, this picture does not give a good appearance. Please don’t judge the thousands of professions on the poor actions of the very few.

  2. @ORD Flyer because passengers are in the middle of deboarding? Not sure why they would pour an unopened beer out in the lav to begin with, would likely need to go back into cart/kitchen.

  3. @Bill who knows where the beer came from it could have been brought onboard by a passenger or already purchased by a passenger. Either way, they aren’t going to restock it and serve it to someone else. The FA could easily just take it from the deplaning PAX and throw it in the galley without interrupting the deplaning process or getting in anyone’s way.

  4. The pilot was a pretty good safekeeper for the beer. As is evident in the photo, he was even kind enough to put a napkin under the can…

  5. So there’s a photo of a can of beer next to the pilot. It wasn’t the smartest thing to accept the can, but if it was unopened at the end of the flight, I see no need to excoriate or even write-up the pilot. A word to the wise should suffice. Now if the can were in the cockpit and empty at the end of the flight…

  6. In Dallas back in the day a former stripper called Candy Barr was arrested and did time for having Marijuana in her apartment. She told them that she was keeping it for a friend.

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