The New York Times City Room blog reports Slater, 39, frustrated with a customer who wouldn't follow directions, cursed out the entire plane on the public-address system, activated the inflatable emergency evacuation slide, then slid down it, escaping into John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Police found Slater at his home in Belle Harbor, Queens and charged him with reckless endangerment and criminal mischief.
The incident occurred after a passenger ignored instructions from Slater to stay seated, and got up to reach for his belongings in an overhead compartment. As Slater approached the passenger, his luggage struck the flight attendant in the head.
Upset, Slater asked for an apology, and instead, the passenger told Slater off. The flight attendant then continued on with his tirade, shouting:
"To the passenger who called me a m---f--er, f--- you," Slater ranted over the intercom, passengers said.
"I've been in the business 28 years. I've had it. That's it," reports the New York Daily News
Slater then slid down the emergency escape slide, fleeing into the employee parking lot to a car he had left there.
According to LinkedIn, Slater has worked for JetBlue since January 2008, and served as chairman of JetBlue's uniform redesign committee and on the company's in-flight values committee.
Response on the Internet to the news of Slater's outburst has been fast, furious, and - in a sign of how frustrated other fliers are with abusive passengers - pretty positive.
Comments left on Slater's Facebook page include:
"I applaud you sir … grabbin' a beer for the slide was a nice touch! . . . [expletive] rude folks & their lack of respect."
"You sir, are a god."
"I raise a glass in your honor."
And perhaps the most prophetic: "Kind of jealous. I'll write you in jail, darling!"
Already there is a Free Steven Slater Facebook page.
And if there needed to be a sign that Slater may enter the annals of folk hero, it is this: the "Free Steven Slater" T-shirt from Customink.com.