Anyone who has ever held a position in the service industry has probably fantasized about staging the sort of fantastic, attention-grabbing exit that JetBlue flight attendant Steve Slater pulled off at New York's JFK airport yesterday afternoon.
Reportedly, after the plane touched down around noon, a passenger stood up to grab his luggage before the crew gave the go-ahead. Slater asked the flyer to remain seated. The passenger stood up anyway, so Slater walked to the seat, just as the suitcase flew from the overhead compartment and hit him in the head.
When Slater asked for an apology, the passenger instead cursed him out. Slater switched on the PA system, threw his own obscenities right back at the customer, quit on the spot, launched the inflatable emergency exit slide, swiped a beer, and made his triumphant plunge onto the tarmac.
Obviously, Slater’s wild resignation breached loads of protocol and safety regulations. The Federal Aviation Administration doesn’t like it when emergency landing equipment is activated unnecessarily, and it’s generally against service industry policy to degrade or insult paying customers.
In fact, Slater’s actions were decidedly illegal. Police arrested him later that afternoon in his Queens home for criminal mischief and reckless endangerment. He’s currently being held on bail.
Yet, despite it all, Slater is enjoying a bit of a hero’s welcome on the web. GQ UK already listed an in-flight Heineken as one of its “Ten Best Things” in honor of Slater. More notably, on Facebook, some 20,000 people (a number that is spiking by the minute) already “like” a Steven Slater fan page, and some of those dedicated fanatics have even offered to pay Slater’s legal fees.
Such an instant groundswell of support, of course, begs the question: Is this a Robin Hood-type situation, where breaking the law is a triumph for the masses? Or was this just an irresponsible – albeit incredibly entertaining – way to hightail it out of a tense industry and stick it to the man?
Either way, we suggest the next JetBlue flight attendant to go out in such a blaze of glory pick up a Beef Up! plate to accompany the brew.