A gay JetBlue flight attendant got into an argument with a passenger on a jetliner arriving at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Monday, cursed the passenger, grabbed a beer from the galley and then deployed an emergency exit slide and fled the plane, authorities said.
The Associated Press reported that flight attendant Steven Slater was arrested at his nearby home in the Belle Harbor section of Queens by Port Authority of New York and New Jersey police on charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing.
Slater, 39, remained in custody Monday night. 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 a previous residence listed for Slater in Thousand Oaks, Calif., identified herself as his mother but said she wasn’t speaking to the media, according to the AP.
Slater’s account on MySpace, registered in the name “nycflyer71,” describes him as “gay” and “in a relationship.” In June, one of his MySpace friends wished Slater a “Happy pride!”
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 compromised.
Slater was working on JetBlue Flight 1052 from Pittsburgh when he got into an argument with the passenger, who was pulling down baggage from an overhead bin, the Port Authority said. The luggage apparently struck the attendant in the head and he asked for an apology, but the passenger refused, the agency said.
As the plane was landing, Slater got on the public-address system and cussed at the passenger, the Port Authority said. He then grabbed at least one beer, activated the slide, slid down and went to his car, it said.