Former JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has given his first indepth TV interview – speaking to Larry King on Tuesday – about his now infamous August 9 incident in which he opened the emergency exit door of the plane he was working on, grabbed a can of beer, deployed an inflatable slide and slid off the aircraft, with some hailing him a “folk hero” in the wake of his well-publicized meltdown.
Watch the video on RadarOnline.com
King wasn’t afraid of a little turbulence from the get-go, asking Slater if he’d been drinking that day.
“I will admit I have accepted responsibility for the fact that I did have a sip or two,” Slater told King. “I was in no way intoxicated or impaired at the time of the incident. This was just the end of the rope. But, yes, I have acknowledged that.”
Slater said that fateful morning, he became unhinged at the end of a long work stretch while dealing with an unruly, aggressively passenger.
“I call it a perfect storm of bad manners that created the situation, including my own… we’re stressed,” he said. “Flight attendants are working 12, 14-hour duty days often with as little as six to eight hours rest the night before.
“It was the third leg of the day,” he said. “It was the third day of a three-day trip. Passengers are stressed. We know what trials and tribulations it’s become to travel. And I think it all just kind of came to a head at that time.”
Slater said the moment he decided to jump off the plane, he “was in a state of pure rage and anger” and “had this moment of just serenity and clarity when it occurred to me that I didn’t need to do this anymore.
“I saw this golden ray of sunshine just through that little porthole and I thought to myself you know, my car is just right across that ramp,” Slater said. “And the — it’s a beautiful beach day and I think it’s time to go and that’s a quick way to do it.”
King asked Slater, “If you had to do it all over again, you would not?”
Slater said he would have likely quit the job, but not in the fashion he did.
“I would have handed in my two weeks and moved on,” he said. “You know I loved flying, I had a wonderful 20-year career… I had a wonderful time. But the flying that I loved is not the flying of today. I’ve come to accept that.”
As RadarOnline.com previously reported, the incident occurred after JetBlue Flight 1052, traveling from Pittsburgh-to-New York, landed at JFK airport. Slater pleaded guilty October 19 to two counts of attempted criminal mischief in connection with the incident, and was ordered to to undergo counseling and substance abuse treatment in lieu of jail.