JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater’s head being examined to avoid jail

Is anybody shocked that Steven Slater‘s head is being examined? While we all think know he’s nuts, this step is necessary for the criminal case that’s in the works. Remember: while the former JetBlue flight attendant was becoming a hero to airline employees across the country, he broke the law several times over, putting some of those very employees at risk of injury or death.

Attorneys on both sides of the Slater issue say they are working on a deal – and that Slater might be able to avoid jail time through alternative sentencing. Slater’s sudden realization that he needs his sanity checked out may be a sign that he’s coming to his senses:

[Image credit: AP]

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Queens District Attorney Richard A. Brown said Slater’s willingness to be evaluated shows he’s taking the charges more seriously than he had in the past. Slater had spoken out after the incident, as his public opinion swelled and hundreds of thousands of fans online cheered him for standing up to the inhospitable world of airline travel.

Daniel J. Horwitz, Slater’s attorney, seems to be bolstering the results of an evaluation that hasn’t even come yet by citing the pressures his client is experiencing, including a terminally ill mother, recently deceased father and HIV positive diagnosis for Slater. He has his fingers crossed, so to speak, that prosecutors will consider Slater’s “long-standing and well-regarded reputation in the industry,” but that might not be a good idea, given that the permanently former flight attendant (it seems) has had a few issues with honesty in the past.

If the alternative sentencing deal comes through, Slater could wind up spending only a few weeks in treatment. Then, he can move on to that reality show.

Nutty flight attendant Slater leaves JetBlue, claims he wasn’t fired

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For JetBlue, at least, the Steven Slater saga appears to be finished. The flight attendant who couldn’t handle his passenger safety cart-pushing responsibilities any longer resigned from JetBlue last week, according to his attorney. Initially, the delusional employee wanted his old job back. JetBlue has said that Slater is no longer an employee but didn’t mention whose choice it was.

Following his ride to fame down the emergency slide, Slater was suspended by JetBlue, which was planning to investigate. Internally, the company referred to Slater as being as “dangerous as a gun.”

This is the end of a career that may have lasted two decades, depending on how much of Slater’s math you trust, and he spent the last three years at JetBlue.

Of course, Slater isn’t out of the woods yet. The flight attendant, lauded by airline employees as a show of customer contempt envy and solidarity, still has to contend with criminal charges, including criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. His next court date is today.

Does the airline industry really consider JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater a hero?

As you know, I’ve been following the story of flight-attendant-turned-runaway Steven Slater closely. What started as the quirky, though dangerous, reaction of a man pushed too far has become a bit more complicated. Slater’s message board activity has shown his likely instability, his own words tell that he’s been planning this for a while and it’s becoming increasingly likely that he lied about being assaulted by a passenger. And, let’s not forget that the man responsible for passenger safety – the only aspect of their job description that flight attendants harp on – actually put people at risk.

So … a hero?

Contributing to the Wall Street Journal’s Speakeasy blog, flight attendant Sara Keagle, with 18 years in the cabin, asks this very question. Even after acknowledging that “investigators are questioning the account, she explains:

Back to the question: is Steven Slater a hero? Hero may be a strong word. Especially in light of reports that other passengers aboard the flight don’t recall seeing the alleged unruly passenger. But, regardless, Slater’s actions have come to represent an idea. For me and the coworkers I have talked to, the story has become a release. Steven did what we’ll probably never do. But when he jumped, he spoke to us. He said, “It’s not just you. We all feel like jumping sometimes.”

Yes, all flight attendants “feel like jumping sometimes,” I’ll take Keagle’s word for it – but how many do?
Even the notion of admiring Slater disturbs me, because it runs counter to the stated role of the flight attendant on the plane, namely safety, and supporting this guy necessarily results in clear hypocrisy. As the story unfolds, I do wonder if the perception of Slater within the aviation industry will change.

Ask Gadling: Does it really cost $25,000 to repack an airplane evacuation slide?

This question is obviously triggered after the JetBlue incident last week – when Steven Slater deployed the emergency slide, the media claimed the damage was around $25,000 just to repack the slide.

So, I did a bit of research, and contacted a friend who actually manages a large international airline. The answer was quite surprising – $25,000 is on the very, very cheap side.

To get the deployed slide back to its usable condition, they don’t just roll it up, they actually have to deflate it and remove the entire slide assembly from the door of the plane, load it into a truck and bring it to a certified maintenance facility.

Most large airlines will have a couple of spare slides, so they can replace the deployed slide relatively quickly, but they can’t use the plane until it has operational slides. The deployed slide has to be inflated again and checked for any leaks – then it is professionally repacked, and its inflation canister is re-pressurized or replaced. Only after it has been fully inspected can it be put aside while the airline waits for the next incident that requires a new slide.

The total damage on a commercial jet can be as much as $50,000. This includes the cost of replacing the slide, and the time lost when the jet is out of service. If the airline is lucky, the plane will be close to a facility that can replace it, in the worst case, they need to load a replacement slide onto another plane and ferry it in, along with a maintenance crew.

So there you have it – an evacuation slide is quite a bit more complex than the moon bounce at the local Chuck E. Cheese.

[Photo from: Flickr / Joel Franusic]

JetBlue memo: Steven Slater’s slide “as dangerous as a gun”

The Associated Press has unearthed an internal JetBlue memo, and it’s pretty clear that the airline doesn’t view disgruntled flight attendant Steven Slater as a hero. In fact, JetBlue‘s memo has characterized his actions as inexcusable.

Loved because he left his job in grand fashion – despite the fact that “aviation is in his blood” and he wants the gig back – the emerging reality suggests that Slater really put himself and other people at risk of injury or worse.

Even if Slater was reacting to an uncooperative passenger, JetBlue isn’t interested in his excuses. The company’s chief operating officer, Rob Maruster, wrote in the memo, “If Mr. Slater’s story proves to be accurate, and even if there was a precipitating event that motivated his behavior, that still doesn’t excuse his actions.”

And, let’s not forget that Slater was arrested and charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. He entered a plea of “not guilty” and is out on $2,500 bail. According to a report by MyFoxNY, he faces felony charges.

Perhaps the most frightening part of the Slater saga – aside from the fact that a person whose “primary job is safety,” as the flight attendants like to say, lost his mind in something that’s nowhere near a crisis situation – is that he could have injured or killed somebody.The fact that he deployed an emergency slide, notes the memo, is “the most distressing aspect” of the situation. According to The Associated Press report:

“Slides deploy extremely quickly, with enough force to kill a person,” the letter to employees read. “Slides can be as dangerous as a gun.”

Maruster added that the “episode does not reflect the professional and sincere service you deliver to our customers every day.”

Fortunately, when he used this “gun,” Slater also had a beer in his hand. This guy might be getting the “hero” treatment by working folks everywhere, but here’s the question nobody seems to be asking: would you want to rely on him where you work?