The airline industry’s latest headline-maker didn’t help land a plane safely or tackle any terrorists. According to police reports, he cursed out a passenger, grabbed a few beers, abandoned the plane using its emergency chute, then called it a day.
But that hasn’t stopped many – including thousands of supporters on the Internet – from labeling JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater a hero.
He “did what everyone always wanted to do but never did,” says the “Free Steven Slater” Facebook page – one of many overnight shrines for the 39-year-old, who quit his job in dramatic fashion on Monday.
Slater, fed up with a passenger who refused to apologize for allegedly hitting him on the head while retrieving luggage from the overhead bin, reportedly used the PA system to unleash a torrent of curse words before ditching the jet at New York’s JFK International Airport.
The 20-year airline veteran was arraigned Tuesday and has been charged with two counts of reckless endangerment and criminal mischief, but the case has left many cheering him on – and wondering if he deserves praise instead of prison time.
“We (flight attendants) secretly have thought about doing this you are my hero for taking a stand on flight attendant abuse!!!” one commenter wrote on another Facebook fan page.
And it’s not just fellow flight attendants coming to his defense.
Everyday passengers are applauding his actions too and even proposing creating a fund to help pay his legal bills (“Has anyone started a bail fund for the American Worker Hero?” one supporter wrote).
Others weren’t as supportive. “Plenty other people would take that job and if needed to quit would do so in an un-rude [manner]. A–hole!” one man said on Slater’s Facebook page.