Ask the Captain: An open note to JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater

 

Steven Slater , “What Color is Your Parachute, dude?”  Enquiring minds want to know. Exit, stage left………or was that Emergency Exit, stage left?

Hand me that other cold one , will you?

It was another one of those days, wasn’t it?

Your high speed, French, aluminum-tubed cattle car was just yards away….no, feet away,  no, no, just inches away for home plate and…and …… game over.

Brakes set, seat belt light off and you’re out of this pig pen……YES ! 

Your last syllable of “Home again, Home again, and I’m out of here” had not made it past your whispering lips.

THEN,  it happened……… like clockwork. Those important people get out of their rented seats to retrieve their overhead luggage. This is before the aircraft is stopped and the seat belt light is extinguished.

OMG, here we go AGAIN…..for the millionth time.

By law YOU have to get them back into their seats or it could be your rear is in trouble….….not just theirs. Experience dictates you best take care of #1 now before you worry about  #2.

The passengers on this flight have been sullen, sulky, moody, sour, unfriendly, unpleasant, scowling, unsmiling; bad-tempered, grumpy, crotchety, prickly, cantankerous, irascible, testy, short-tempered; abrupt, brusque, curt, gruff, churlish, ill-humored, crabby, cranky, uncivil; and….. and…… even grouchy. 

Constant is the passenger’s agitation.  

Nickel, dime, nickel, dime, nickel, dime, quarter, dollar, five spot, twenty, C-note……will it ever stop?Carry on bag fee, checked bag fee, second checked bag fee, additional bag fee, overweight bag fee, ticket change fee, booking fee, unaccompanied  minor fee, pet fee, seat selection fee, premium seat fee, inflight food fee, blanket and pillow fee………and soon to come, no doubt……going Wee Wee fee………….. Geeeez.

But then again your cabin crew on this flight has been sullen, sulky, moody, sour, unfriendly, unpleasant, scowling, unsmiling; bad-tempered, grumpy, crotchety, prickly, cantankerous, irascible, testy, short-tempered; abrupt, brusque, curt, gruff, churlish, ill-humored, crabby, cranky, uncivil; and…….. and………… even grouchy.

Burn out. Burn out !!!

And you don’t really know why……or do you?

Could it be........ YOU……………. have broken the code?

Things are NOT as they appear by the media or by the public.

Steven, you know you could have filed a complaint against that non compliant passenger.

You know it’s a slam dunk and listed in the  United States Attorneys’ Manual  as 9-63.110

Interference with Flight Crew Members and Attendants Section 46504 of Title 49, United States Code (formerly section 1472(j) of Title 49 Appendix) sets forth the offense of interference with a flight crew member or flight attendant within the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States, which is defined in 49 U.S.C. § 46501(2). The statute applies to any “individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties.” The statute provides for up to 20 years imprisonment, and further provides for imprisonment for any term of years or life if a dangerous weapon is used. Interference with a flight crew member or attendant is a general intent crime, and does not require a specific intent either to intimidate the flight crew member or attendant or to interfere with t he performance of his or her duties. United States v. Grossman, 131 F.3d 1449 (11th Cir. 1997).

Venue is governed by the standard venue provisions, 18 U.S.C. §§ 3237 and 3238 and Rule 18, Fed.R.Crim.Proc. See also United States v. Hall, 691 F.2d 48 (1st Cir. 1982). “[T]he offense continues for at least as long as the crew are responding directly, and in derogation of their ordinary duties, to the defendant’s behavior.” United States v. Hall, 691 F.2d at 50. Prosecution is always proper in the district over which the aircraft was flying when the interference took place, if that can be determined. In many cases, particularly those in which either (1) the aircraft is diverted due to the defendant’s actions, (2) the defendant’s interfering actions continue, or (3) the crew remains concerned about defendant’s possible further actions, venue is also proper in the district in which the aircraft lands. Since determining the district over which the aircraft was flying when the action took place may be difficult, and that district may have little or no connection to the matter, the Department advocates prosecution in the district where the aircraft lands and the defendant is deboarded and arrested in all appropriate cases.

She’s dead meat, she’s    r e a l l y    dead meat………..….she was the first to draw blood.

Then, the frustration comes with that flash of reality.

Company support? What support?

Your complaint may NEVER see the light of day once it is filed.

Why? You are aware of the dirty little secret of many air carriers…………they, the airlines,  JUST don’t want to deal with it.

And………..POOF,  it’s gone.

Oh, and you know, if you get upset and try to make this complaint a “Federal” issue……..you could put your job at risk.

The risk could come on your next annual review or check. You might NOT pass. That’s how it works sometimes.

Steven,  good luck on your next endeavor.

 

Answering your questions in our ASK THE CAPTAIN column is, Michael Wiggins, a retired airline pilot who has spent the better part of his life shuttling passengers around the globe. Do you have questions for YourLifeIsATrip's airline pilot? Submit your question and look for answers in a future column. 

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