Does the union representing pilots for United Airlines condemn or support recently announced alcohol restrictions? A cryptic statement makes it difficult to discern.
Earlier today, I wrote about United’s new ban on pre-flight alcohol consumption for pilots on duty. Overnight, the “bottle to throttle” rule went from an 8-hour consumption ban to a 12-hour consumption ban. Now pilots can not longer drink alcohol within 12 hours of a flight, a 50% increase in time.
I support the policy, even though I acknowledge that alcohol is simply not an issue for the overwhelming majority of safety professionals who fly for United. But I’m just a passenger and outside observer. What about pilots?
Brian Sumers, who broke the story on United’s revised guidelines, reached out to Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) for comment. Initially, ALPA declined to comment. But after the story went live and gained national headlines yesterday, ALPA finally responded…cryptically.
Inappropriate alcohol use by airline pilots is exceedingly rare, and United’s pilots will now be held to a 12-hour policy that is more stringent than the minimum FAA standard.
It sounds like the first sentence of a statement that will either oppose or tacitly support the new policy. But which one?
Yes, it is rare. Yes, United pilots will be held to a stricter standard than the FAA requires. Pilots will also be held to a standard stricter than American, Delta, or Southwest holds its pilots too.
But I outlined earlier why it makes sense.
So, ALPA is just repeating two highly-publicized facts. What are we supposed to infer from that?
Personally, I think that is the way of ALPA covering its bases. I tend to think it opposes the new rule as a sign that United doesn’t trust its pilots or is overreacting. But the public loves “action” and United acted swiftly. Perhaps ALPA realized it would do more harm than good if it vocally opposed the new rules. So instead, it voted “present.”
What do you infer, if anything, from the cryptic ALPA statement?