I‘ve been following the coverage of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who bailed out of a parked aircraft after a profanity-laced confrontation with a passenger about his luggage, with some interest.
It’s a curious story, and while reporters congratulated themselves for finding Slater’s MySpace and LinkedIn account, they may have overlooked the richest source of information: his apparent profile on Airliners.net, the industry discussion site where he goes by the handle Skyliner 747.
A review of his postings reveals that he’s a former TWA flight attendant with a history of commenting on luggage issues. At one point, he even seems to indicate that he’s considered exiting an aircraft in an unauthorized way. I’ll get to that in a moment.
For now, here are a few memorable Skyliner 747 posts. Bear in mind that the profile appears to be a perfect match, but like all online discussion groups, there’s a certain amount of anonymity that makes it difficult to confirm this is the right Steven Slater.
In a discussion about carry on baggage, he comments about a coming luggage disaster.
The advent of wheeled luggage was a huge turning point, bit more importantly, the airlines have created a monster. Lousy bagggage handling, theft, and now gouging with bag fees, why WOULD anyone want to check a bag?
Add to the our collective laxidasical approach to enforcement, and you get a disaster. At the end of the day, the airlines have to step it up. I hate to be bag nazi when i work a flight, but I feel if I am not, then I am letting down all those who cooperate and thry to help out as well. I have obligation to them, and also to the next crew so the passenger doesn’t say “well on the LAST flight they let me”. Well maybe so but that was a 747 and this is an E190 and blah blah blah..
The comments also reflect his attitude toward passengers and their luggage:
As a flight attendant I am very sympathetic to and thankful for the responsible travelers that plan and pack accordingly. I do feel strongly that if a customer chooses to bring two pieces of baggage aboard, the second must go under the seat. Bring one, put it up, fine. Bring two, you gotta share, buddy.
Slater seems to have a thing for carry-on luggage. In another discussion, he proposes a modest solution.
My $0.02 as a frequent traveler. There is a simple solution to this problem.
1. Require everyone to put their luggage into bins as they go through security. If it doesn’t fit in the bin, you *have* to check it.
In another posting, Skyliner 747 shows what appears to be a darker side — perhaps a premonition to the explosive confrontation that was to come.
Seriously, buddy, what is with the hostility. You are really getting nasty and I am at a loss as to why. You are absolutely 100% correct that the cockpit has many pre-flight duties and yes, they too, are unpaid. I do not feel that is right either. I believe people should be paid for what they do. ALL of what they do regardless of whether it is a F/A, pilot, janitor, butcher, etc.
Finally, is he contemplating what might happen if he exits the plane in a way that isn’t authorized in the following quote?
$1,000 fine if I get off the plane. Your carry on drama ain’t worth that to me.
As I mentioned, it’s difficult to verify with 100 percent certainty if Skyliner 747 is Slater. If it is, then it begs the question: Should JetBlue have seen this coming? I mean, here’s someone who appears to suggest that he’s going to jump off a plane, who seems to have some anger issues, and is fixated on luggage.
Could this have been prevented?
Update (1 p.m.): I’ve revised this post after receiving extensive feedback from readers, including some emails from Slater’s friends and acquaintances. My narrative voice may have been a little judgmental in the first draft, and as many commenters have mentioned, we don’t yet have all the facts. Point taken.
(Photo: Drewski2112/Flickr Creative Commons)