Mile-high: air steward 'delusional' after eating marijuana
Published 09/04/2011 | 05:00
A FORMER Aer Lingus flight attendant who ate a cookie laced with marijuana before a transatlantic flight became delusional and paranoid when the plane he was working on took off.
Miguel Saez Sanchez (32) believed there were fleas and lice on his face and that passengers were taking photographs and laughing at him after the flight took off from San Francisco, an employment appeals tribunal heard yesterday.
The former cabin crew member has claimed he was unfairly dismissed as a flight attendant following the incident on the Dublin-bound journey on March 20, 2009. He said he was also taking diet pills in the run-up to the flight, which are banned in the Aer Lingus cabin-crew manual.
Mr Sanchez, of The Way, Dunboyne, Co Meath, had flown to San Francisco five days earlier and had decided to spend his time off with friends in Los Angeles.
During an unplanned party on the day before the flight, he drank three or four vodkas, then unwittingly ate a cookie with the drug in it.
One hour later he started to feel unwell.
When friends told him that the cookie contained marijuana, he became very upset and was advised to take a shower.
However, he became paranoid in the shower and thought people were filming him.
When he woke up the next day, Mr Sanchez said he felt fine and was brought to San Francisco for the flight back to Dublin.
Margaret Curran, who was the senior member of the cabin crew that day, said he was upset and emotional prior to take-off because of a personal argument with friends but had started work in the premier section of the plane. She said there was no indication he was unable to fly.
After the plane took off, she said Mr Sanchez became tearful and thought he was being photographed by passengers who he suspected were "plants" from Aer Lingus.
When Ms Curran was trying to calm him down, he said he could feel fleas and lice on his body.
Mr Sanchez said he had only used marijuana once before in Amsterdam when he was 19, and never again because of the way it had affected him.
He did not initially tell Ms Curran that he had consumed the cookie as almost 24 hours had passed, and he did not feel it had affected him.
He said he told her he was not capable of fulfilling his duties shortly after take-off.
Mr Sanchez also claimed he did not know that diet pills, which he bought over the counter in the S, were prohibited by Aer Lingus.
Tom Mallon, for Aer Lingus, said that for a member of cabin crew to consume marijuana, slimming pills and alcohol "is nothing short of folly in the highest". He said Mr Sanchez had cut himself off from travelling in a plane in any role other than as a passenger.
Cathy McGrady, counsel for Mr Sanchez, said he had taken the marijuana unwittingly and as soon as he felt unwell, he had informed staff.
She said the disciplinary proceedings that resulted in his dismissal were flawed and the airline should have considered all sanctions available to them. A verdict in the case is expected in eight weeks.