Galley Gossip: Flight attendant fights with a passenger, escapes down the emergency slide and then drives home

When dealing with unruly passengers, flight attendants are taught a few different techniques to diffuse a situation, one of which is to separate yourself from the passenger and let another coworker step in and try to handle it. A new face is new energy. This alone can calm passengers down. While most flight attendants will simply escape to the galley, one flight attendant actually opened an emergency door, popped the slide, grabbed two beers, and slid down the chute. Once on the tarmac he ran into the terminal and eventually made his way to his car. He drove home to his residence in Queens where I imagine he left his crew bags beside the front door, loosened his tie, and popped open one of the beers and chugged it down. (Burp!) All this after a JetBlue passenger refused to apologize after accidentally striking him with luggage.

I have to admit that if a passenger had hit me with luggage I would have liked an apology, too. Though I don’t think I would have demanded one. That said, if that same passenger had told me to F-Off! I, too, might have been tempted to pick up the PA and direct the same obscenity to the dude with the potty mouth over the intercom system for all to hear. But never in my wildest dreams would I have ever thought to pop a slide and make a run for it. Probably because I’d have no idea which way to go! Flight attendants don’t spend a lot of time walking around on the tarmac.

According to The Wall Street Journal, “Authorities picked the flight attendant up at his home Monday afternoon and brought him to the Port Authority Police station at JFK airport for questioning. The official said that Slater (the flight attendant) was calm when arrested and remained calm throughout his interrogation and the booking process. He was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief. He was awaiting arraignment Monday night.”

This is the kind of thing a flight attendant can only do once in their career. That’s because they would no longer have a job to go back to. Certainly this JetBlue flight attendant knew that before making his dramatic escape. Which got me thinking, is there a better way to go?

When I mentioned this to Shannon, an ex flight attendant friend, she said she wishes she had thought of it first. “Seriously, why didn’t I do that on my last flight! Blow the slide, throw out my bags, a few bottles of wine from first class, leave my badge behind and walk across the tarmac waving goodbye on my way to the parking shuttle. Oh well.”

After a long pause, Shannon added, “It would be extra classy and fun to pop open some champagne and drink it straight from the bottle as you wave to the plane.”

That’s a flight attendant fantasy if I ever heard one. My friend Jane agreed. She’s not a flight attendant but she now wishes her job had an emergency chute at work.

As much as we’d all might like to go out in a blaze of glory, the reality is this flight attendant cost the airline a lot of money. Not just because it costs $25,000 to repack a slide, but because now the airplane has to be taken out of service and who knows how many flights will now have to be canceled. After drinking those two beers, I wonder if the flight attendant will realize he will now go down in aviation history as the guy who abandoned ship because he got hit in the head with a handbag? Now it’s buh-bye job, buh-bye 401K, hello criminal record. Where the heck does one go from there?

Photo courtesy of WexDub