London: An armed US air marshal was removed from a packed Los Angeles-bound plane at Heathrow airport after the captain found that he “stank of booze”.
Metropolitan police officers were called to the plane at Terminal 2 after the United Airlines captain claimed the marshal “stank of booze”.
A police spokesman said the man was breathalysed and arrested last Monday, but released from custody a short time later with no further action. The marshal — carrying a concealed loaded weapon — was taken to the airport’s nick and breathalysed. He was reportedly one of the four air marshals on board the transatlantic flight.
The flight to Los Angeles was two hours late taking off.
A source on the Boeing 777 said yesterday after up to 266 passengers aboard Flight 935 were left fuming: “The captain smelt alcohol on the breath of one of four armed US air marshals who were on board. “It caused quite a scene,” The Sun quoted the source as saying.
The federal marshal — whose duty in the wake of 9/11 is to “detect, deter and defeat hostile acts” — was later freed without charge because he had not broken any UK laws.
A police source said: “It is only an offence if someone has an aviation function like flying the plane or being an engineer. “When the case was reviewed it was decided the legislation did not fit with the function he performed,” the police source said.