Where’s An Air Marshal When You Need One?

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JetBlue Flight Attendant Makes His Exit

I’ll admit, there was a time when I wanted to work for an airline. I never really planned it out far enough to say if I was going to be a pilot, a flight attendant, or even an US air marshall, but the idea of traveling the world and visiting all sorts of places & people is still very exciting to me. Of course now I know that the life and work of an airline employee is far from glamourous. Sure they do get free tickets and a few other perks, but by and large the hours are long and since 9/11 the stability of the major airlines as been shaky.

Flash forward to today, Monday, on the tarmac at Kennedy International Airport, JetBlue attendant Steven Slater decided he no longer wanted to work in the airline industry. He’d had enough.

Mr. Slater, a career flight attendant was part of the flight crew on a full flight from Pittsburgh to New York. The trouble started with a dispute involving a passenger who stood to get his luggage too soon. We all know that few people actually wait until the plane comes to a full and complete stop, but this time the flight attendant was not going to take it sitting down. After using the plane’s intercom system to speaking his mind, authorities say, he pulled the lever that activates the emergency-evacuation chute and exited the plane. Before sliding down the emergency exit shoot, he did pause to take a cold (or not so cold) beer from the beverage cart.

Reports of the incident don’t state if a US Air Marshal was on the flight, but no one on the plane, or airport crew stopped Slater as he made his way to his car. According to a CNN investigation, of the “28,000 commercial airline flights that take to the skies on an average day in the United States, fewer than 1 percent are protected by on-board, armed federal air marshals”. Authorities found him at his home in Queens, a few miles from the airport, and charged with felony counts of criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.

According to the New York Times, JetBlue is working with the Federal Aviation Administration and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to investigate the episode.

Additional information about this event & US Air Marshal Program News:

http://www.cnn.com/2008/TRAVEL/03/25/siu.air.marshals/index.html

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/10/nyregion/10attendant.html?src=mv

Fast Fact:

Federal Air Marshals:

  • Deployed to detect, deter and defeat hostile acts
  • Blend in with passengers to protect the flying public
  • Trained in firearms and recognizing terrorist behavior
  • Learn special tactics for use during flights

Source: Transportation Security Administration

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