A JetBlue flight attendant left his job in dramatic fashion yesterday, allegedly cursing out passengers on his flight before exiting via the plane's emergency exit -- beer in hand -- and eventually driving off in a car he had parked at the airport.
As you might expect, the story has become the talk of the industry, generating headlines and inspiring TV reports at media outlets from California to Europe.
ABC News is among the numerous outlets covering the story, writing that the incident came as the aircraft used on a Pittsburgh-to-New York JFK flight was taxiing to the gate on Monday around noon ET.
Then, ABC says "one of the passengers apparently got out of his seat to grab a bag from an overhead compartment. The flight attendant walked over to tell him he had to sit down. The two reportedly got into an argument and somehow the flight attendant got hit in the head with either the bag or the compartment door."
That's when things got interesting, according to the various media reports.
The Wall Street Journal writes the attendant -- Steve Slater -- "demanded an apology from the passenger, but the passenger refused to give one. The two argued back and forth before the passenger directed an expletive at Mr. Slater, [an airport] official said. Mr. Slater then got on the plane's PA system and directed the same obscenity at all the passengers, and added that he especially meant it for the man who refused to apologize, the official said."
"Then," The New York Times writes in its City Room blog, Slater "activated the inflatable evacuation slide at service exit R1; launched himself off the plane, an Embraer 190; ran to the employee parking lot; and left the airport in a car he had parked there." Additionally, the newspaper notes that "on his way out the door, he paused to grab a beer from the beverage cart."
The Associated Press says "Port Authority police were notified about 25 minutes later," which apparently allowed Slater enough time to board the JFK AirTrain, get to his car and drive to his home in nearby Queens. The Times notes he was "charged with felony counts of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment."
Speaking to the charges, an unnamed law enforcement official tells the Times: "When they hit that emergency chute, it drops down quickly within seconds. If someone was on the ground and it came down without warning, someone could be injured or killed."
ABC adds background on Slater, saying that according to his profile at the professional LinkedIn website, he was part of JetBlue's "inflight values committee" and was chairman of the "uniform redesign committee."
Regardless, Slater's dramatic exit left many at a loss for words -- including New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. "It's a strange way to quit, let's put it that way," he says to CNN. "I don't think he'll be able to come back."