A flight attendant on a flight from Chicago to South Bend, Indiana, was arrested last week and charged with public intoxication after prosecutors say she was so drunk on the flight that she did not know what city she was in and later had a blood alcohol content reading of .204.
Julianne March, 49, was arrested on Aug. 2 at South Bend International Airport, according to an affidavit filed in court Thursday by the St. Joseph County prosecutor's office.
Prosecutors say the incident began when South Bend Airport police were notified that an inbound United Airlines flight from Chicago had a flight attendant on board that "was either drunk or experiencing a medical issue."
Aaron Scherb, a passenger on the flight, tweeted that the flight attendant was "slurring her speech" and "couldn't make it through the security announcement."
Video Scherb took on the flight appeared to show March passed out in her seat near the front of the plane. He added that she "couldn't walk straight" and "was bumping into everyone in the aisle and kept dropping things," calling it "appalling."
Once the flight landed, authorities say officers and airline personnel boarded and found several passengers who "expressed concern" about March, who was the sole flight attendant on the plane, per multiple reports.
"Some believed she was drunk, some thought she might have had a medical issue, and others felt she might have had a stroke," prosecutors said, adding, "A few passengers reported they felt scared for their lives" based on March's condition.
Officers said March, of Waukesha, Wisconsin, was at first unwilling to stand up and began to cry. When they asked her where she was, she told them she was in Chicago, according to prosecutors, who added that when she did stand up, she needed to use the plane's seats to keep her balance.
March was then taken to a private office inside the airport for further evaluation, where authorities claimed she had bloodshot eyes, slurred speech and the smell of alcohol on her breath. She verbally agreed to take a breathalyzer, prosecutors say, but then physically refused to perform the test.
March was then arrested and as she was being taken to St. Joseph County Jail, authorities say she told an officer she had consumed two vodka "shooters" before going to work that morning.
When she did eventually take a breath test at the jail, prosecutors say March's blood alcohol content level was .204. She was charged with one misdemeanor count of public intoxication, and could face a sentence of up to 180 days in jail, according to the prosecutor's office. March was released on her own recognizance, officials said, and was next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 29.
March "is no longer employed by Air Wisconsin," the regional airline, which was operating the United flight, said in a statement. "We will continue to cooperate with local authorities and assist them as necessary."
Scherb said in a statement that United Airlines called and offered him a refund and a voucher of $500 or 25,000 miles, which he had not accepted because he found it to be "insufficient."
"Given that the safety and well-being of all 50 passengers on that flight was jeopardized, I find United's response to be insufficient, especially since United had just given a $1200 voucher to a would-be passenger on United Flight 4849 as we were about to board because the flight was oversold," Scherb said.