A veterinary nurse who downed so much vodka on a flight that she was unable to speak claimed she "was not drunk at any point”, a disciplinary panel heard.
Katherine Heyes, 29, avoided being struck off but was warned her “reckless behaviour” brought the profession into disrepute.
Ms Heyes drank a bottle of vodka with two friends on a Thomas Cook flight to Turkey from Manchester for an all-girls holiday in May 2019.
She was described by a fellow passenger as “bordering on manic'” and “screaming and swearing at everyone", before having to be restrained by her friends.
Ms Heyes had been travelling with a three-year-old child who she shouted and swore at "aggressively," causing the child to become upset and cry, the hearing was told.
'Every passenger’s worst nightmare'
Registered as a veterinary nurse in Lancashire, Ms Heyes said that while on the flight she drank some vodka that had been poured into a cup for her by a friend.
The Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons disciplinary committee heard a transcript from the sentencing hearing which described how during the flight, Ms Heyes and one of her friends were seen going to the lavatory with a large beach bag, which the cabin crew suspected contained alcohol.
Sentencing Ms Heyes at Manchester Crown Court, Judge John Edwards described her as "every passenger’s worst nightmare".
Another passenger became particularly concerned about the way Ms Heyes was behaving towards the child who was with her on the flight and alerted the cabin crew, the hearing was told.
The cabin crew then decided to take the child to the back of the plane, and Ms Heyes' behaviour "deteriorated", the committee heard.
A fellow passenger said: "One minute she had her head in her hands and was crying; the next minute she was flailing her arms around and was laughing. This went on for some time."
Passengers wanted plane diverted
Later on in the flight, the cabin crew found Ms Heyes slurring her words to the extent that the senior cabin manager was unable to understand what she was saying, the panel heard.
A “chaotic” atmosphere ensued with passengers shouting that they wanted the plane to be diverted so Ms Heyes could be removed from the flight, the committee heard.
Cabin crew found a "full size" empty bottle of vodka near Ms Heyes' feet.
A fellow passenger described how her nine-year-old child had been traumatised by what happened, worrying about whether the same people would be on the return flight, the panel heard.
The disciplinary panel heard that as a result Ms Heyes was sentenced to a community order in July 2020 consisting of 80 hours' unpaid work, and had to pay a victim surcharge of £85 and costs of £250.
But despite the committee ruling that Ms Heyes had been guilty of disgraceful conduct, she has escaped being struck off or suspended.
The panel concluded: "Whilst the charge was not so serious as to require suspension or removal from the register, the committee decided it is necessary to issue a formal warning to Ms Heyes as to her future conduct."