United Airlines is rolling out some new guidelines when it comes to pilots and drinking. The carrier is now telling its pilots that they should not have a drink within 12 hours of reporting for flight duty. The previous guidelines required pilots to have their final drinks eight hours before reporting for duty. The change is intended to make passengers more confident as well as create a safer environment for everyone. The time allowed between when a pilot can have a drink and when they can operate a plane is often called the bottle-to-throttle mandate in the airline industry.
What caused United to change its policy regarding how much time needs to pass before a final sip and the start of a flight? Headlines were made recently when a pilot working for the airline was arrested in Scotland after failing an alcohol breath test just before a flight. Several incidents like this one have actually occurred in recent years. Pilots working for United, Delta and American have been arrested for violating bottle-to-throttle regulations.
United's updated policy regarding when its pilots can take a final sip prior to a scheduled flight is stricter than what the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires. The FAA currently has an eight-hour mandate in place. In addition, the FAA won't tolerate a blood-alcohol concentration of higher than 0.04 percent.
Major carriers like American Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Southwest Airlines all currently follow the FAA's guidelines and have eight-hour bottle-to-throttle policies in place. It's possible that those airlines could change their policies to keep up with United and calm any fears that passengers may have when it comes to when their pilots may have taken their last alcoholic beverages prior to flights.