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Sun, Aug 15, 2010

Some Passengers Say JetBlue Flight Attendant Was Incident Instigator

Several Said He Was Rude For The Entire Flight

It's one thing to make a dramatic exit from one's job, but as more people come forward, evidence is emerging that Steven Slater's now-famous slide to unemployment might have been as much his own fault as that of any passenger on the plane.

Some passengers on the JetBlue flight from Pittsburgh to New York last Monday are saying that Slater was the instigator of the confrontation that led to his announcement he was quitting over the aircraft PA, after which he activated an emergency slide and exiting the airplane in dramatic fashion. Slater was later arrested on a variety of charges stemming from the incident.

The Wall Street Journal reports that one passenger said Slater got into a "heated argument" over another passenger's luggage. She said that the young woman asked the flight attendant where her luggage had been stowed, at which point the conversation turned ugly and Slater blurted an expletive at the passenger.

Another said she had asked Slater for something to clean up coffee which had been spilled in her seat, to which Slater allegedly said "No. Maybe when we get in the air. I have to take care of myself first, honey." The passenger said Slater was pointing to what has been described as a sizable cut on his head.

That passenger said the coffee was not dealt with, and that Slater spent a good deal of the flights opening and slamming overhead bins and refrigerator doors.

The confrontation which led to Slater's taking over the airplane's PA system, swearing at the passengers, and leaving the plane via the plane's emergency chute was not witnessed by all of the passengers. One said she was not aware of the ending of the drama until she saw it on the news later that night.

Meanwhile, the paper reports that JetBlue is being investigated for its failure to report that the slide had been activated for about 25 minutes after the incident occurred. There was also reportedly a delay in handing over the flight manifest. JetBlue spokesman Steve Stampley said "We are participating and cooperating fully in the investigation.

Slater has pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing, reckless endangerment, and criminal mischief.

For its part, JetBlue posted the following on its blog:
"Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants? While we can't discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet. (The reason we're not commenting is that we respect the privacy of the individual. People can speak on their own behalf; we won't do it for them.)

"While this episode may feed your inner Office Space, we just want to take this space to recognize our 2,100 fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers for delivering the JetBlue Experience you've come to expect of us."

FMI: www.nycourts.gov/courts/11jd/index.shtml, www.jetblue.com

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