Pilot Confronted Over Alcohol Smell

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Two passengers noticed last week at a security checkpoint at Port Columbus that an airline pilot they passed nearby smelled strongly of alcohol, so they told a TSA agent ... but they didn't stop there. According to the Columbus Dispatch,as the men proceeded beyond the checkpoint, they noticed that the pilot was heading toward their own departure gate and so with further inspired mortal vigor took matters into their own hands. They approached the pilot and frankly told him he stank of alcohol, adding that if he had a drinking problem, he shouldn't be flying an airplane. At that point, the man identified only as a Chicago-based Southwest Airlines captain turned red, turned around and ran away. Airport police were dispatched and later found the captain in a restroom, where he'd apparently removed his uniform jacket and replaced it with a normal business jacket. The police may have just missed the phone call the captain had just made to his employer, but what they did hear may have been interesting enough.

While in the restroom, the captain reportedly called in sick, setting in motion his replacement on Southwest Flight 3396, a Boeing 737 out of Columbus for Orlando. When accosted by the police, he allegedly told them he had "partied hard" the previous evening, according to the Columbus Dispatch, but hadn't had a drink that day. The officers confirmed that the captain did smell like alcohol but noted that he did not appear to be impaired in any (other) way. Airline officials told police they would test the captain for alcohol and both the FAA and Southwest are looking into the matter. The accused pilot is out on paid leave.