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Air steward grabs beer, makes dramatic exit after feud with passenger

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2010-08-12

He lost his rag with an impatient passenger. So steward Steven Slater grabbed a beer, deployed the plane’s emergency slide and quit the aircraft – and possibly his job – in unprecedented style.

A flight attendant has achieved folk-hero status after he flipped out on a passenger, grabbed a beer and left his aircraft down the emergency slide.

US authorities said Steven Slater lost his temper with an agitated passenger on Monday and cursed over the intercom before taking a beer from the plane's galley and making his grand exit.
Slater was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing after the incident at New York’s John F. Kennedy airport on Monday.
But when the details became more widely known, thousands of Internet users voiced their support for the 38-year-old airline veteran by joining a tribute group on Facebook [more than 90,000 on Wednesday morning].
“It seems like something here has resonated with a few people. And that’s kinda neat,” Slater told reporters after he was bailed by an unnamed supporter.
Slater’s attorney, Howard Turman, told reporters that Slater was drawn into a fight between two female passengers over space in the overhead luggage compartments as the JetBlue Flight 1052 Pittsburgh to New York flight was awaiting take-off.
"Thanks for a great ride"
He said that Slater was later hit in the head by a suitcase as one of the passengers was removing it before the plane had come to a standstill.
“The woman was outraged and cursed him out a great deal,” Turman said. “At some point, I think he just wanted to avoid conflict with her.”
Slater then took the plane’s public address microphone, saying “those of you who have shown dignity and respect these last 20 years, thanks for a great ride,” according to prosecutors.
A spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the airport, said Slater then grabbed at least one beer from the plane galley before deploying the emergency slide, jumping out of the aircraft and walking to his car.
Slater, whose father was an airline pilot, was arrested when he reached his New York home.
Prosecutors said Slater's actions could have been deadly if ground crew had been hit by the emergency slide.
“Overwhelmingly people said it should have been the passenger who was ejected from the plane,” said George Hobica, founder of, speaking about response to his site’s blog on the incident. “I’ve never seen such an outpouring of support for a flight attendant.”
On his Facebookfan page, comments universally describe Slater as a “hero” among flight attendants.
One comment reads: “Speaking from experience, every airline employee in the world is cheering for you.”

Date created : 2010-08-11