Plane-iac’s foe faces 25G hit
FAA: JetBlue bag lady broke a slue of rules
New York Post – By Philip Messing and Doug Auer
The woman whose oversize luggage sparked a tarmac tirade by a JetBlue flight attendant is in the cross hairs of federal officials mulling stiff penalties and heavy fines for her temper tantrum, authorities said yesterday.
The unidentified passenger could be slapped with a fine of up to $25,000 fine for bringing down an overhead bin’s door on Steven Slater’s head before Flight 1052 took off for JFK from Pittsburgh on Monday, said FAA spokesman Jim Peters.
Federal regulations state, “No person may assault, threaten, intimidate or interfere with a crew member in the performance of the crew member’s duties aboard an aircraft.”
Slater was simply trying to make the woman check the larger of her two suitcases when he was hit, his lawyer said.
The irate passenger again threw the air-travel rulebook out the window when the jet got to JFK, where she leaped from her seat to take her smaller bag down from overhead storage before the pilot gave the go-ahead.
That carries two $1,100 fines, Peters said, for unbuckling her seat belt and walking around the cabin while taxiing.
Investigators are trying to track down passengers who were sitting near the woman in Rows 6, 7, 8 or 9, sources said.
Detectives also plan to review video of Slater sliding down the inflatable chute he activated after lashing out on the plane’s intercom at “the f- -king a–hole that told me to f–k off!” the sources said.
Investigators flew the other attendant on the flight back to New York last night to be interviewed.
The airline yesterday offered each of the 100 passengers on the flight a $100 voucher.
In a company blog titled “Sometimes the Weird News is About Us,” JetBlue joked, “Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants.
“While we can’t discuss the details of what is an ongo ing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet.” The blog added, “It wouldn’t be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the in dustry without ac knowledging when it’s about us.”
JetBlue ads often make fun of the prices other airlines charge.
The blog predicted Slater’s antics “may feed your inner Office Space,” a reference to the 1999 comedy about disgruntled technology workers.
It gave no new information about what happened, saying it will let people “speak on their own behalf.”
Meanwhile, Slater continued to bask in his newfound fame.
“For 20 years I thought about it,” he told The New York Times about deploying the emergency chute. “But you never think you’re going to do it.”
But that’s just what he did, grabbing a beer before sliding down and heading to his home, where he was arrested.
He was bailed out Tuesday night and stayed at a friend’s Upper East Side penthouse.
Slater visited a bail bondsman on Queens Boulevard yesterday morning to fill out paperwork, before driving home in his Jeep.
“One door closes, another one opens,” he said of his future employment prospects, without elaborating.
Slater’s former wife, Cynthia Niethamer, told The Post her ex has considered a dramatically different career path.
“He’d love his own fashion line. He’s a brilliant merchandiser,” she said from her home in Branson, Mo. “Actually, we met working at JCPenney when we were 16. He’s absolutely stellar at it.”
Niethamer, 38, recalled the father of their teen son as an “extremely patient” man.
She said they were married in 1991, for less than a year.
As far as her ex being gay, she said, “I think love does not have a gender bias. I think he loved me when he did.”
Slater also has the support of his cancer-stricken, 75-year-old mother in Thousand Oaks, Calif.
“The first thing I heard was ‘He’s gonna be in jail for seven years’ and I thought, ‘Oh, my God! That was a setback, believe me. But anyway, it’s turning out OK,” said Diane Slater, a former flight attendant.
Additional reporting by Ikimulisa Livingston in New York, Matthew Kent in Branson, Mo., and Anita Bennett in Thousand Oaks, Calif.