NEW YORK (AP) - A flight attendant accused of cursing out a passenger on an airplane public-address system and using an emergency slide to hop off looked happy and relieved afterward, a passenger said Tuesday.
Steven Slater lost his temper after a passenger accidentally hit him on the head with luggage on the ground at Kennedy Airport on Monday, police said. After the plane parked, he grabbed beer from the galley and used the exit slide to make his getaway, police said. He was awaiting arraignment Tuesday in Queens on criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing charges.
Passenger Phil Catelinet said he heard the profanity-laced announcement on Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh, which he described as "the most interesting part of the day to that point," but didn't see Slater use the exit slide or grab the beer. It wasn't until he saw Slater on an airport train and overheard him talking about the escapade that he put it all together.
"He was smiling. He was happy he'd done this," Catelinet told NBC's "Today."
Slater appeared "pretty relieved" and "seemed like he was looking forward to whatever comes next careerwise," Catelinet told CBS' "Early Show."
By Monday night, several Facebook pages had been set up in tribute to Slater, with many users of the social networking site expressing support for his grand exit from his job. Slater, 39, was arrested at his home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police. His attorney's name wasn't immediately available, and there was no home telephone number listed for him.
A woman who answered a phone at his previous residence in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn't speaking to the media. JetBlue Airways Corp. said in a statement that it was working with the Federal Aviation Administration and Port Authority police to investigate the matter. It said the safety of its customers and crew members was never at risk.