The America West Airlines pilots were preparing to take off on a flight to Phoenix, when police escorted the pilot and co-pilot off the plane. Tests showed they were legally drunk.
Pilot Thomas Cloyd, 44, and co-pilot Christopher Hughes, 41, were arrested on felony charges of operating an aircraft under the influence of alcohol, Miami-Dade Police Department spokesman Joey Giordano said
"Cloyd and Hughes became angry when an airport baggage screener asked them to hand over what they said was coffee," he said.
The screener noticed that both men smelled of alcohol and notified her supervisor, he said. The supervisor also noticed the smell and notified police.
"They were in the cockpit," Giordano said. "The plane was taxiing. The police contacted the tower and air traffic controllers instructed the pilots to return to the gate."
The pilots failed a filed sobriety test at the gate and were taken to a police substation at the airport for a breath test that measures alcohol levels. "Cloyd came back with 0.091 and Hughes with a 0.084," he said.
Florida law considers a person to be intoxicated at 0.08.
"It is our understanding that both pilots tested positive for alcohol during a breathalyzer," America West spokeswoman Janice Monahan said. "We will work cooperatively with police and conduct an investigation. If it confirms the results ... then the individuals will be terminated."
The flight was canceled and the passengers were placed on other flights to Phoenix, Monahan said. "American West has a zero tolerance policy for alcohol use," she said. "It will not be tolerated."
Cloyed, who has been with the Phoenix-based airline since 1990 and Hughes, an employee since 1999, "have been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation," she said.