Wednesday 24 January 2018

Escape slide steward spared jail

Steven Slater leaves a Queens courthouse in New York (AP)
Steven Slater leaves a Queens courthouse in New York (AP)

The US airline steward who became world-famous after quitting his job then sliding down the emergency chute of a packed jet and running off has escaped jail for his actions.

Steven Slater admitted a charge of criminal mischief and was given a year's probation.

"At the end of the day, I'm a grown-up and I must take responsibility for my actions," Slater said outside the New York City court, adding that the public interest in his case had surprised him.

Slater's escapade came last August aboard a JetBlue Airways flight that had just landed at John F Kennedy International Airport.

He got on the cabin loudspeaker, swore at passengers, then slid down the chute with a beer in his hand.

He became a topic on TV shows and on the front pages of newspapers and hundreds of thousands of fans online cheered him for standing up to the inhospitable world of airline travel and quitting his job so spectacularly.

Under the plea deal Slater will face at least a year of counselling and treatment. If he does not finish the programme to the judge's satisfaction he will get one to three years in jail.

Meanwhile his fame has waned, but not gone: In a homage to Slater this Halloween, several shops are selling their own versions of the disgruntled airline employee or the angry steward. "It's a blue steward shirt with a light blue tie and it comes with a Band-Aid for your forehead," one said.

Slater remains unemployed after resigning from JetBlue. He worked there about three years, though he had spent nearly 20 in the airline industry.

JetBlue suspended Slater and told staff in a memo that press coverage was not taking into account how much harm can be caused by emergency slides, which are deployed with a potentially deadly amount of force.

Press Association

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