Sunday, September 5, 2010

What Took Them So Long?

Finally, after deliberating for the better part of a month, JetBlue Airways fired Steven Slater - the coffee, tea or flee flight attendant who deployed an emergency shute to leave a flight prematurely at JFK International-New York after allegedly cursing out a passenger on the airplane intercom and grabbing a beer. This reckless and selfish act made the errant FA an Internet folk hero, but it shouldn't have. JetBlue was right to fire him - it should have happened sooner.

Flight attendants flocked to support him, pointing out, rightly, that FAs are often treated poorly by their employers and sometimes by passengers. What most Slater supporters did not say is that flight attendants - especially on U.S. carriers - are also often brusque and rude to passengers, who are, after all, paying good money to fly. FAs, however stressed, are paid to be there, and they are trained to deal with uncomfortable situations. Seen in this light, Slater was about as unprofessional as he could have been. Moreover, the would-be hero did not tell off an oppressive and powerful boss before leaving - if media accounts are correct, he dissed dozens of powerless travelers who were unfortunate enough to be in his care. This is a hero?

Slater still faces charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. He should have a day in court, and if the charges stand up before a judge or jury, he should be convicted and hit with an appropriate penalty. People have got to understand that venting and throwing a temper tantrum on the job is not cool, not clever and not acceptable. Travel is stressful enough already without travel pros unraveling and thinking only of themselves.

Oh, one more thing: Where is the abusive passenger who supposedly triggered the whole thing?

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