Steven Slater, a JetBlue flight attendant with 28 years in the industry, finally got so fed up after dealing with a jerky passenger that he decided to make a dramatic exit. As reported by Holly Bailey for Yahoo! News:
Police arrested a JetBlue flight attendant today at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after he got into a verbal altercation with a passenger and then fled the scene by sliding down the plane’s emergency evacuation chute.
The rest of the story includes language not suitable for a PG-rated blog, but it’s worth reading the full article for the hilarious details. No doubt the guy has become an instant folk hero among flight attendants, ticket agents, and customer service reps who have had to turn the other cheek in the face of some rude and disrespectful behaviors from customers.
The job of a flight attendant has become increasingly stressful over the years. In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, airlines took a huge economic hit, salaries were slashed, and cabin crews were asked to assume greater responsibilities for safety and security. Today, the planes are often packed with passengers who are cranky over being stuffed into small seats with scant legroom, with little or no food served. When passengers act out, flight attendants are likely to be on the receiving end.
(JetBlue happens to be one of my favorite airlines, as I have found their service to be consistently good. The fact that this guy reached his breaking point and decided to go out in style doesn’t change that impression!)
Aug. 9 followup — The story of JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater has become a national phenomenon, as this Yahoo! news piece by Brett Michael Dykes, titled “Rogue JetBlue flight attendant hailed as working-class hero,” aptly demonstrates.
Aug. 12 followup — In considering the employment relations aspects of this situation, it’s also helpful to see the marketing and business implications for JetBlue. Here are articles by Stuart Elliott for the New York Times and by Georg Szalai for Reuters (via Yahoo! news) exploring those ties.
And here’s an Associated Press piece interviewing passengers who were not so enamored of Steve Slater.
Aug. 13 followup — Here’s my attempt to glean the meaning of the Slater incident.
Aug. 17 followup — Workforce Management magazine says “it’s a wonder more frazzled airline workers don’t reach for their rip cord.” Go here for the article.
Sept. 5 followup — Colleen Long reports for the Associated Press that Steven Slater has resigned his flight attendant position with JetBlue.
Oct. 19 update — Colleen Long reports for the Associated Press that Steven Slater has accepted a plea agreement that will keep him out of jail and require him to undergo counseling.