Photo/IllutrationA Japan Airlines Co. aircraft parked at Haneda Airport International Passenger Terminal in Tokyo's Ota Ward. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Japan Airlines Co. (JAL) has been severely reprimanded by the transport ministry after a flight attendant was caught sneaking a beer into a plane restroom mid-flight, the company announced June 6.

The actions of the male cabin crew member in his 20s could have compromised the safety of the flight in May, according to the ministry.

The incident occurred May 22 during Flight JL 8791 with 97 passengers and crew from Honolulu to Kansai International Airport in Osaka Prefecture.

The rule-flouting flight attendant, who started in the job eight months ago, was spotted by a passenger taking a can intended for passengers into the toilet.

Apparently incensed by the man's behavior, the passenger e-mailed the company on May 31 and wrote, “A crew member entered a toilet carrying beer. An empty can was left in a trash box set in the toilet.”

The flight attendant, who is based at the JAL office at Bangkok International Airport, explained that he quaffed a beer to help him "sleep well during my break time."

He said he thought he could get away with it as the cabin light was turned off and he didn't think he would be spotted by a passenger.

The airline’s rules that were approved by the ministry stipulate that cabin crew members are prohibited from drinking alcohol for 12 hours before boarding and until the end of a flight.

JAL is considering introducing breathalyzer tests for staff before and after flights as a recurrence-prevention measure.