NEW YORK (CBS/AP) JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater's explanation that an uncooperative passenger caused him to lose his senses and slide down a parked plane's emergency chute may not fly, the airline says in an internal memo.
And even if it's true, a bad day at work is no excuse for Slater's behavior, JetBlue says in the memo obtained Friday by The Associated Press.JetBlue Chief Operating Officer Rob Maruster wrote that the airline is still investigating, but that no one has yet corroborated Slater's version of events. In fact, JetBlue notes, several passengers "have given interviews that tell a different story."
"If Mr. Slater's story proves to be accurate, and even if there was a precipitating event that motivated his behavior, that still doesn't excuse his actions," Maruster wrote.
Slater went onto the public address system Monday on a plane at New York's Kennedy Airport after a JetBlue flight from Pittsburgh, cursed out a passenger he said had treated him rudely, and then slid off the plane.
He was arrested, charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing, and released on bail. Slater's attorney says a passenger's "lack of civility" prompted his behavior.
Slater has been hailed as a working-class hero on social networking sites for the ultimate take-this-job-and-shove-it moment.
The airline said "the most distressing aspect" of news coverage is that the danger of deploying an emergency slide hasn't been taken seriously enough.
"Slides deploy extremely quickly, with enough force to kill a person," the letter to employees read. "Slides can be as dangerous as a gun."
Maruster added in the memo to JetBlue employees, that the "episode does not reflect the professional and sincere service you deliver to our customers every day."