Today's guest post is by Julie Farin
JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater has become the latest media magnet due to his dramatic “take this job and shove it” exit from Flight 1052 at New York’s JFK airport last week, following his public obscenity-filled rant involving a rude passenger who allegedly injured him while retrieving her carry-on baggage from the overhead bin (ignoring Slater’s instructions to remain seated).
Just 48 hours after this well-publicized incident, the social media was all a-Twitter and divided. There were those who called Slater a hero, a man who should have been applauded for fulfilling every disrespected working person’s fantasy. Others thought him more of a zero, whose actions were reckless and dangerous. JetBlue, on the other hand, suspended the 28-year airline veteran and two days later issued a light-hearted statement on their company blog basically announcing that they couldn’t comment on the situation due to the ongoing investigation.
I am surprised that JetBlue did not swiftly issue a statement apologizing for their employee’s rogue behavior (right or wrong, there were 100 witnesses who heard his eff-ing tirade over the PA system) while they collected all the facts. This was the airline’s opportunity to reiterate how seriously they consider the safety of their passengers and their employees, instead of treating Slater’s public meltdown as somewhat of a joke, as the tone of their statement seemed to suggest.
Clearly, this man was beyond stressed and frustrated by having to deal with the bad behavior of ill-mannered passengers day after day. But, as they say, it comes with the territory of a job that deals with the public. Perhaps JetBlue should mandate stress-management seminars for flight attendants as part of its on-going training (if it hasn’t already). For the record, I recently traveled on JetBlue round-trip from JFK to San Diego, and it was a wonderful experience. In fact, I plan on flying JetBlue again next month.
Regardless, Mr. Slater has become an overnight celebrity with all the traditional and social media attention (buy your "Save Steven” t-shirts here!) And it now seems that he has hit the publicity mother lode: Hollywood publicist Howard Bragman has announced he is representing Slater, losing no time fielding offers for book deals, endorsements, and reality TV shows.
Hey, if the Jersey Shore cast’s antics can be celebrated on TV, why not a harried flight attendant?
Julie Farin is a Public Relations professional based in New York with expertise in TV, entertainment, magazine publishing, and the media in general. She is a news and information junkie, Godfather aficionado, and proud to admit that John Lennon is her favorite Beatle.