Today’s guest post is from Phil Derner, Jr, the founder of NYC Aviation, a serious airplane spotting enthusiast group in New York and fantastic online community to discuss airlines and airplanes. Phil, and his partner in crime Matt Molnar can be found on Twitter at @NYCAviation
The big news in the airline world this week has been that of a JetBlue flight attendant making a rather unexpected exit from the aircraft and announcing his resignation to a plane load of passengers. Phil has a very interesting take on this situation … as funny as it may seem, in reality it is anything but funny.
… without further interruption, here is Phil’s guest post.
Steven “Slip and Slide” Slater’s Great Escape!
While JetBlue Flight 1052 was taxiing to the gate after landing, a passenger attempted to remove a bag from the overhead bin. After requesting the passenger remain seated until the aircraft came to a halt, an argument developed that lead to not only profanity, but apparently with Slater receiving a blow to the head from the bag. Reaching his maximum point of frustration, Slater grabbed a pair of beers from the galley, shared some choice words over the public address system and blew an evacuation slide, using it to make his way home.
Before anything, let’s discuss the slides themselves. Though accidental inflation is fairly common in the airline industry, it’s no minor event in terms of its repercussions. Aside from the cost of replacement being around $12,000, the aircraft can be out of service for a time, or require that massive sections of the cabin near that slide remain unoccupied should the airline attempt to fly it before replacement.
More importantly, it is a serious safety concern. Slides are like airbags, but of course heavier. Anyone on the ground or in a jet-bridge can easily be killed if they are struck or crushed by a blown slide that they don’t know is coming. So when your plane comes to a stop at the gate and you hear the purser tell other flight attendants to “disarm”, it’s a serious command to make sure that the slides are not activated during normal deplaning.
As for the events on JetbBlue 1052, there’s actually some debate here. Were his actions unsafe and even illegal? Absolutely. Did he choose a grand exit from a job that every single crew-member has fantasized about doing at some point or another when approaching their breaking point? Most certainly. Any flight attendant or pilot that you know would be lying if they told you otherwise.
Let’s consider Mr. Slater’s position. No matter how much some of us love flying, an aircraft cabin is a very high stress environment. Long gone are the days where flying was a luxurious experience (for the most part anyway), with deregulation doing away with that. Passengers these days not only deal with what may be a fear of flying for some, but the overall mantra that the airline industry is one that you’re just SUPPOSED to hate. When televisions started popping up in every home across America, we’ve have our craniums crammed with images that force us to associate the industry with delays, crashes and terrorism. Even with that as a subconscious stress, add to it someone not getting enough ice in their cola, and you have the potential for a serious brouhaha on the aircraft. Sadly, I’m not even kidding.
As it happens, I also finished a book yesterday titled “Planely Speaking” by Bobby Laurie (@upupandagay on Twitter). If you have any wonder what may have driven Steven Slater to his breaking point, I know of no better book to show you not only the shocking events that unfold from passengers in the air, but also how the flight attendants feel with honest commentary from Mr. Laurie. Low pay, hectic schedules, cleaning up unnecessary messes from others and more…it’s not easy, but someone’s got to do it. Though there are so many wonderful passengers out there, just one or two rude or entitled customers can lead anyone in any field of work to get up, go to their L2 door, open it, stick their head out and yell that they are mad as hell and not gonna take it anymore!
Though many rules and regulations we deal with these days are incredibly annoying, everyone needs to be reminded that they are all in place for people’s safety. FAA regulations are often made as a reaction, meaning that whatever rule you may be breaking, someone else was surely injured and a company sued over the very same thing at some point in the past.
My rule of thumb…follow the instructions of your flight attendants. Empathize if you’re able. Making their day easier gives you a better flying experience. Now ask them for a Heineken, tip them if the airline allows it, and enjoy your flight!