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  • JetBlue Weighs In On Slater And The Slide
    Posted by Andrew Compart 9:46 PM on Aug 13, 2010

    As I wrote here, I do not consider suspended JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater a hero or a symbol of what's wrong with airlines, air travel, bosses or society at large; I also noted that he really could have hurt someone by deploying the emergency slide. But plenty of people seem to believe he is a hero, and in a letter to employees today, JetBlue voices some despair about people who are not taking Slater's deployment of the slide as a serious matter.

    In the letter, Rob Maruster, JetBlue executive vice president and chief operating officer, does say that the airline will support attendants and other employees against abusive passengers (while suggesting that it also will be interviewing passengers who were on the flight to try to determine the full story).

    "JetBlue will always seek to prosecute people who physically harm or threaten to harm a Crewmember or Customer. Period. Safety is not just our #1 Value, it has to be our way of life, and we must see everything through the Safety lens," he wrote. "No one at JetBlue should ever feel unprotected in this kind of situation. We are actively participating in the investigation, and we are conducting our own, to find the other half of Mr. Slater’s story and get his/her account."

    "However, if Mr. Slater’s story proves to be accurate, and even if there was a precipitating event that motivated his behavior, that still doesn’t excuse his actions," Maruster continued. "There is no excuse for endangering Crewmembers and Customers in response to a challenging service situation. Intentionally arming and deploying an evacuation slide for anything other than the express purpose of protecting the safety of our Crew and Customers is unacceptable. It will not, and can not, be tolerated. I’ve always believed that we as a company must be overwhelming in our response to any violation of Safety, and this situation is no different."

    "The most distressing aspect of the media coverage has been the lightness with which they are treating the deployment of the emergency slide," he added. "Slides deploy extremely quickly, with enough force to kill a person. Slides can be as dangerous as a gun, and that’s the reason we have intensive initial and recurrent training. It is an insult to all aviation professionals to have this particular element of the story treated without the seriousness it deserves."

    Tags: tw99, JetBlue, Slater

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