I enjoyed a JetBlue flight Boston to Puerto Rico yesterday, saving approximately one week compared to my last trip down here (see “flying the Caribbean”). While we were in the air, Steven Slater quit his flight attendant job with the airline and made a dramatic exit from JFK (boring nytimes story; lurid NY Post story), activating the Embraer E190’s emergency slide as part of his escape from two decades of dealing with the general public. The flight was over. The plane was at the gate. Slater did not interfere with any other airline employees trying to do their jobs. Slater did not cause anyone to be injured or suffer a financial loss (unlike half of the employees on Wall Street!). Yet the guy is now in jail and charged with a criminal offense (nytimes).
I can’t figure out the rationale for criminal charges. Perhaps Slater owes JetBlue the cost of repacking the slide (though they probably also owe him a paycheck and could deduct the cost from that). Aside from the fact that the incident occurred at an airport, where is the crime?
[Update: I was talking about this with some friends at dinner last night and comparisons to Mark Hurd of Hewlett-Packard came up. Hurd was the CEO and accused of stealing the shareholders’ funds via false expense reports. Instead of the police coming to his door and arresting Hurd for stealing, he was sent an additional $28 million of the shareholders’ money (more).]