The Flybe pilot was preparing to fly from Newquay, Cornwall, to London Gatwick yesterday morning before being removed from the aircraft.
It is believed a crew member alerted police after becoming concerned.
The flight was then cancelled and passengers faced delays of almost five hours.
A Devon and Cornwall Police spokesman told the BBC: “A 48-year-old man from Crediton, Devon, was arrested on suspicion of being over the drink-drive limit.
In a statement Flybe said: “Flybe can confirm that one of its pilots volunteered to help the police with their inquiries at Newquay Airport.
“Flybe is not able to comment further while the police investigation is taking place.”