information is still pouring in about what happened to a passenger flight out of minneapolis today. A pilot was arrested after failing a breathalyzer test. Suspected of drinking. What made the... See More
information is still pouring in about what happened to a passenger flight out of minneapolis today. A pilot was arrested after failing a breathalyzer test. Suspected of drinking. What made the authorities suspicious? Here's abc's lisa stark with the story. Reporter: It was early morning, the first flight of the day, when the pilot passed through the security checkpoint. As he was waiting for a nearby elevator, a tsa agent and other officers just happened to walk by and just happened to smell alcohol. As the pilot headed in the cockpit of his american eagle regional jet the worried officers notified airport police. They caught up with the 48-year-old captain kolbjorn kristiansen after he finished pre-flight checks. It was before 6 a.M. Just before 53 passengers would have boarded the flight from minneapolis to new york. Police say kristiansen failed a preliminary alcohol breath test. He was arrested. The reality is, there's no excuse for having alcohol on the pilot. None. Reporter: The flight took off late. It landed safely at laguardia. Some were shocked when they learned why their flight had been delayed. I'm feeling very unsafe. Reporter: The faa says incidents are rare about 12 allegedly drunk pilots arrested a year. In one case in 2002, two america west pilots were caught drinking on surveillance tape the night before their flight. And tsa screeners smelled alcohol on their breath the next morning. The pilots were arrested before the flight took off. We are in a dive! One hollywood's current hit movies, flight, focuses on a drunk pilot who pulls off a miraculous crash landing, but then has to face the music. This toxicology report states you were drunk. The legal limit is .04, half of what's allowed for drivers, but still enough to impair judgement. Reporter: Just to give you an idea just how seriously this is taken, in the most extreme cases, pilots could face up to 15 years in prison. In this case, for kristiansen, his fate is still unknown. We don't know his exact alcohol level. We do know that he has been suspended, pending a full investigation.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.