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Flight Attendant Slides to Notoriety on Exit Chute After Passenger Dispute

Posted Aug 10, 2010 4:04 PM CDT
By Martha Neil

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It isn't all that unusual to hear of an airline passenger being arrested after a confrontation with a flight attendant.

But a JetBlue attendant has become something of an unlikely folk hero following his arrest after a confrontation with a passenger. During the incident, Steven Slater allegedly suffered a head injury related to the passenger's luggage, according to the City Room blog of the New York Times.

The defining moment that apparently tipped the balance was Slater's admitted activation yesterday of an emergency chute on the just-landed plane at Kennedy International Airport, on which he exited the dispute in a much-reported slide to notoriety.

Before doing so, the 38-year-old Slater allegedly grabbed a microphone, offered an expletive-laden commentary to the aircraft and helped himself to a beer, reports ABC News.

Held in New York lieu of $2,500 bail, he may soon be freed with the help of money being raised on a Steven Slater Legal Defense Fund posted on Facebook.

At his arraignment in Queens today on felony charges of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment, his court-appointed lawyer, Howard Turman, said Slater had not acted recklessly but had followed proper procedure by checking outside the window first before activating the slide, the newspaper recounts.

The ABC article provides an additional comment from Turman to the judge:

"This is an example of how airline civility is missing," the attorney said. "People just don't have courtesy anymore."

Although some have criticized Slater's handling of the incident, the online response has been "overwhelmingly positive," reports the New York Daily News.

Another New York Times article provides additional details.

Updated on Aug. 11 to link to additional New York Times article.

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