From airline attendant to underdog superhero, and seemingly overnight, Steven Slater has certainly made his point. What he likely didn’t realize was the multitude of other issues that would be brought to the surface in the mix. So what is up with commercial air travel?
To recap, Steven Slater was a JetBlue flight attendant and self-professed “Bag Nazi”. Slater made a dramatic exit, and headlines, quitting his position by grabbing two beers and sliding down an emergency exit slide following an altercation with an unruly passenger. (see photos at right, nice sleeves officer…)
Surprisingly, it is not the cabin confrontation itself that is generating the most attention. This event has effectively put a spotlight on the less than savory commercial airline industry. It is much bigger than JetBlue, its employee, and commercial airline passengers. What has erupted are feelings from all sides regarding the deterioration of public airline travel, an industry that seems to be imploding.
In the past, commercial air travel was something passengers looked forward to, and even dressed-up for. These days, with severe budget cuts, airlines in bankruptcy, drastic security measures and low morale, most people feel an overwhelming sense of anxiety flying. So with both the employees and clients feeling the pinch and feeling anxiety and stress, it was just a matter of time before an event brought this deeper issue to the front page.
Passengers are hit with more fees, including bags, taxes, insurance and new security measures are constantly imposed, coupled with the usual delays and long lines. Airline workers are not making huge salaries, and are working long hours waiting on the now unhappy and stressed passengers. This is a problem. How will it be solved?
Well, if you have the means, private aircraft charters are a great solution, allowing you to completely avoid the hassles of commercial airline travel. For the rest of the airline travelers, it remains to be seen what, if any, changes this episode will invoke.
Slater was released on a $2,500 bond, and was reportedly surprised by the media frenzy his story had created, saying,
"I knew there was a brouhaha about this, but while I was on the inside I didn’t realize how much attention it got." he added that it feels "neat."
As for the 100 passengers from that JetBlue flight, they will all receive a $100 voucher, per the standard airline rule.
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