Irish and British create new Fly Zone

Talk about flying high! Miguel Saez Sanchez, a former Aer Lingus flight attendant who was high from a marijuana–laced cookie on a transatlantic flight, is claiming he was unfairly dismissed from his position following the incident, according to the Independent.

Sanchez, 32, became delusional and paranoid after the Dublin-bound flight took off from San Francisco on March 20, 2009. He believed there were fleas and lice on his face and that passengers were taking photographs and laughing at him, an employment appeals tribunal heard on Friday.

Sanchez, of Dunboyne, Co Meath, had flown to San Francisco five days earlier and spent his time off with friends in Los Angeles. The day before the flight, he went to a party where he drank three or four vodkas, and unwittingly ate a cookie with the drug in it.

After he started to feel unwell, his friends told him that the cookie contained marijuana and he became very upset.  He then took a shower where he became paranoid, thinking people were filming him. Sanchez said he felt fine the next day and was brought to San Francisco for the flight back to Dublin.

Margaret Curran, the senior member of the cabin crew that day, said he was upset and emotional before the flight because of an 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, but once the plane took off, he became tearful and thought he was being photographed by passengers who he suspected were "plants" from Aer Lingus. While she was trying to calm him down, he said he could feel fleas and lice on his body.

Sanchez said he had only used marijuana once before in Amsterdam when he was 19, but never used it again because of the affect it had on him. Initially, he did not tell Ms Curran that he had eaten the marijuana-laced cookie since almost 24 hours had passed, and he did not feel it had affected him. Shortly after take-off, he told her he would not be able to fulfill his duties.

Sanchez was also taking diet pills, which are banned in the Aer Lingus cabin-crew manual, in the run-up to the flight. But he claimed he did not know that the over-the-counter diet pills were prohibited.

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.”

Sanchez’ lawyer, Cathy McGrady, said he had taken the marijuana unwittingly and had informed staff as soon as he felt unwell. 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 is expected in eight weeks.