The JetBlue Misconception

JetBlue flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to New York. Sounds like a regular old flight right? Wrong!

It was on this flight that Steven Slater pulled out a submachine gun and killed 40,000 passengers before chugging a gallon of vodka and blowing up the airport.
Uh, I think that sounded like I work in the media all of a sudden. OK, here is the real story as experienced by me and Rik.

It was a normal Monday morning at Pittsburgh International Airport. The weather was fair; planes were taking off and landing with regularity. But somewhere, trouble was brewing. DUN DUN DUN!!! A routine flight headed to JFK International Airport in New York was boarding and, as usual, a passenger was not happy. She had an over sized bag that just wouldn't fit in the overhead compartment. As his job description dictated, Mr. Slater approached the lady and told her that she will need to check the bag underneath the plane and will get it back when the plane lands. Well, she didn't like what she was hearing but she had no choice so she violently yanked her bag out of the overhead and caught Slater right on the forehead with enough force to cut him. When Rik and I boarded the plane (we got on later because we were in row 5) I mentioned to her that the flight attendant was bleeding. I thought it was really strange but when I saw him again it seemed to be taken care of.

Throughout the rest of the morning our interactions with Mr. Slater were very positive. He was very nice to Rik and even let her get up to use the bathroom when the seat belt light was still on. So it came as quite a shock that night when we got to our hotel room that night and saw, in our email inboxes, an email from JetBlue apologizing for the inconvenience. Here is an excerpt from the email:

On behalf of the 12,500 professional Crewmembers here at JetBlue, we appreciate the opportunity to extend a sincere apology for the situation you experienced on August 9th, on JetBlue Flight #1052. We appreciate your patience and understanding as events unfolded. This situation is absolutely not what you have come to expect from JetBlue. We apologize for any inconvenience and appreciate your cooperation in connection with the deployment of our emergency slide.
As a gesture of goodwill and apology for any inconvenience you may have experienced, we have issued a credit in the amount of $100 in your name. These funds will be placed in your JetBlue Travel Bank within seven (7) days and may be used in the next year towards the purchase of travel on JetBlue. You will receive communication confirming the credits via email.

What the hell happened? We took off on time. We landed on time. The flight was a little turbulent (in the regular sense of the word) but JetBlue had no control over that. Why were they giving us this money? We just dismissed it and figured we would get an email saying that we received that email in error and no money was actually being deposited. Anyway, we forgot all about it until my father called me the next morning while we were roaming around Chinatown. He said something along the lines of "so, I guess you were on the flight yesterday". And I said "huh?". Which is when he proceeded to tell me about the guns and explosions and all that other stuff that the news was broadcasting as fact. So, we looked the story up online and started hearing about it on the news and were really intrigued. How could we have missed this? Did this really happen while we were on the plane? We really couldn't figure it out. Then, a few days later, we start getting calls from JetBlue, TSA, and JFK airport security. They all wanted to know what really happened. So we told them that we had no idea. We saw Steven bleeding but nothing else. Then, after we answered all of their questions, I asked a few of my own. What happened on the flight. What have they found out from asking people who were actually on the flight? And this is what I found out: while the flight was boarding, a female passenger was trying to cram and oversized bag into the overhead compartment. Mr. Slater advised her that it was too big and he would check it underneath and have it returned when the plane lands. She got upset and angrily hands her bag over, swearing and then accidentally hitting Slater in the head and cutting him. Slater, obviously tired of the horrible treatment, spent the flight upset at being antagonized again! Then, as the plane was taxiing into the terminal, several passengers started getting up and getting their stuff. Slater got on the PA system and told those passengers that they needed to take their seats and wait until the seatbelt light turned off. So, everyone sat back down and everything continued as normal.

Then, when passengers were de-planing in New York, the original passenger apparently kept harassing him and complaining about her bag not being there when she needed it. Slater, finally fed up with it all, got on the PA system and let those passengers who were left on the plane (JetBlue said there were only about 15 passengers that actually witnessed it) that enough was enough, and pulled the emergency slide and had some fun on the way out of a 20 year career. See, pretty harmless. I don't know what all the fuss was about. The man had a bad day and probably had a concussion from being hit in the head. And the country wants this man arrested and fined as if he were some sort of terrorist.

I can't speak for anyone else but, if he were the flight attendant for me again, I would feel safe and not have a problem with it. We all have bad days. Let's stop overanalyzing his.

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