Passengers aboard a United Airlines flight from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana, expressed concern about one of their flight attendant’s condition during the flight. Upon arrival to their destination, it was determined that Julianne March of Waukesha, Wisconsin, had a blood-alcohol level five times the limit.
March was arrested August 2 after United Flight 4849 landed and was charged with public intoxication, according to a St. Joseph County Superior Court summons. The charging document filed by chief deputy prosecuting attorney Eric Tamashasky said March’s intoxication during the flight “endangered the life of another person, to wit: the passengers on the flight.”
March was also fired by Air Wisconsin, which operates as a regional airline for United and United Express. In a written statement the company said, “The Flight Attendant involved in this incident is no longer employed by Air Wisconsin. We will continue to cooperate with local authorities and assist them as necessary.”
Passenger Aaron Scherb told CNN he was aboard the flight and saw March “leaning against the galley.” He said she began to make the security announcement but stopped mid-speech without finishing. “The pilots called the flight attendant via the internal phone before taking off to get the ‘all clear’/cabin secure message from her, but it took several audible rings before she picked up the phone,” Scherb said.
He said March was seated and “appeared to pass out/fall asleep for nearly the whole flight.” He said once they were in the air, another passenger noticed March wasn’t buckled in with a seatbelt, so she helped strap her in. Scherb said March didn’t get up at all during the duration of the short flight.
Once they landed at South Bend International Airport, passengers told airport officials they feared for their lives due to March’s apparent condition according to court records. The passengers speculated she was either drunk or having a medical issue.
March was arrested at the airport and admitted to having two vodka “shooters” prior to coming to work that morning. Her portable breath test at the jail resulted in a blood alcohol concentration reading of .204. The FAA BAC limit for all aviation safety-sensitive positions is .04.
March was charged with one count of public intoxication, a Class B Misdemeanor, according to Jessica McBrier, a spokeswoman for the St. Joseph County Prosecutor’s Office.