Published September 04, 2010
NEW YORK – A flight attendant who captured America's attention when he told off a plane full of passengers and then slid down an emergency chute resigned from his job last week and wasn't fired, his lawyer said Sunday.
Steven Slater left the job at JetBlue Airways Corp. on Wednesday, after he had been suspended following the on-board antics he was charged with committing last month, attorney Daniel J. Horwitz said. JetBlue had said Saturday that Slater was no longer an employee but didn't give any details, which prompted online speculation he had been fired.
Horwitz said he and Slater were still working out some details with the Queens-based airline but wouldn't elaborate.
"He was not fired," Horwitz said bluntly.
Slater, 38, worked for JetBlue for about three years, though he has spent nearly 20 years in the airline industry.
He was working Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh to John F. Kennedy International Airport on Aug. 9 when, he said, an argument took place with a rude passenger. After landing at JFK, he went on the public address system, swore at a passenger who he claimed had treated him rudely, grabbed a beer and exited via an emergency chute, prosecutors said.
Slater was arrested and was charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing. His lawyer has said a passenger's "lack of civility" prompted his behavior. His next court date is Tuesday.
Slater became an instant sensation and was water cooler talk for days. Online, camps formed on either side of the debate, canonizing or vilifying him, calling him a hero or a cranky brat.
Slater had said after his arrest that he loved flying and wanted to return to work, and some of his tens of thousands of online fans had urged the airline to keep him on. It's unclear whether he will seek airline employment with another company.
JetBlue said last month that Slater was suspended pending an investigation. It told employees in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.