As a frequent traveler, I feel more than qualified to add my voice to the cacophony of praise and rebuke for former Jet Blue flight attendant Steven Slater. He’s being touted as a “blue collar hero” by some, and he certainly has given the press something to talk about in the doldrums of summer.
My view is that the airlines themselves are responsible for the growing tension in the cabin between flight attendants and passengers, and much of it goes back to the decision to milk passengers out of more money by charging for baggage. This caused an immediate burden on carry-on luggage space, because, let’s face it, jets weren’t designed for everybody to bring such luggage on the plane.
Every flight is now needlessly delayed by the search for a spot for carry-ons, which then results in the infuriating and relentless warnings from the flight attendants to “please move out of the aisle.” I even recall one American gate agent from LaGuardia (where they grow especially obnoxious human beings) who actually said over the intercom, “Come on, people, it’s not that hard!” It was enough to make me punch her in the face and deploy the slide, but the crush of oncoming passengers kept me at bay.
I’m all for the airlines making money and for full flights, but it is an impossible situation the airlines have made for themselves and their employees by forcing weary travelers to cram everything they have into the cabin of the aircraft.
Flight attendants are leaping to Mr. Slater’s defense with stories of rude passengers, but I’ve honestly experienced more rude flight attendants and gate agents than I ever have passengers. I understand the pressure under which he “popped,” but I point the finger of blame at the airlines themselves.
You had this coming.