To Phil Catelinet, a passenger on board JetBlue Flight 1052, the trip from Pittsburgh to New York Monday was uneventful, until the F-bomb was broadcast via the plane's public address system.
"One of the flight attendants made this announcement where he swore at a passenger," Catelinet recalled on "The Early Show," "and we, the few of us that were still waiting to get off, thought, 'That's weird. Nobody ever swears on the intercom. Somebody's going to be in trouble.'"
Though he said he hadn't personally witnessed the altercation between flight attendant Steven Slater and an unruly passenger who refused instruction to remain seated, there was hubbub in the terminal about the evacuation slide Slater had released as he made his exit from the plane.
He then recognized Slater shortly afterwards, riding on the AirTrain at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
When asked by "Early Show" anchor Erica Hill about Slater's demeanor - "Did he seem upset, did he seem agitated?" - Catelinet replied, "He seemed actually pretty relieved that he was done working for JetBlue, that he was glad his job there was done.
"There was another passenger there with me, and the two of them were talking," Catelinet continued. "The flight attendant did most of the talking, and talked about how many years he'd worked in JetBlue and worked as a flight attendant and dealt with passengers giving him trouble.
"This is the kind of thing that I would tweet about," Catelinet said, "so I was listening to the conversation, but I didn't want to talk to him because I didn't want to look like I was waiting to tweet about this. So I was just listening to try to make sure I got the story right. Because I didn't understand at first what had happened. I thought a passenger got into it with the flight attendant. I thought maybe the passenger took the chute and got out. I wanted to make sure I got it right."
"And the other passenger asked him about the emergency slide and what would happen to the plane. And he said, 'Oh, that plane's out of commission for a couple of days. It's done.'"
"But he didn't seem all that bothered by it?" asked Hill.
"No, he seemed very glad that his job was done," Catelinet said. "He seemed like he was looking forward to whatever comes next career-wise."
Catelinet communicated the event via his Twitter account: "JetBlue story: pissed-off lady demanded her bag, swore at FA. The FA swore back on intercom, quit job, left plane via emergency slide."
He later wrote up (in more than 140 characters) the story and posted it online.
He also clarified that the flight was never in danger.
Catelinet said, "I think it's a funny way to quit your job, but I really don't think he thought this through. I really don't think he understood that he was going to get in trouble for doing this. Everybody has a bad day and fantasizes about telling their boss to, you know, 'Take this job and shove it,' but you don't want to do it and get arrested. You don't think about the consequences.
"And the other thing that sort of bothered me was, well, he is a flight attendant and you don't want to see somebody in that position lose their cool that way. I understand they've always got passengers who give them trouble. There's always somebody on a flight who has a problem. But this is part of the job.
And, perhaps with an eye to the eternal search capabilities for Internet postings, Catelinet tweeted: "Also, to my current and future employers, I have NO interest in quitting MY job in spectacular fashion."
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