As we were taxiing to the gate, we stopped and several passengers got up to get their bags. One of the flight attendants announced that we were not quite at the gate yet and asked everyone to sit down. I hadn't moved since I was in row 15. We pulled up to the gate and people started to get off the plane. As I got up to get my bags, the flight attendant made this announcement:
"To the passenger who just called me a motherfucker: fuck you. I've been in this business 28 years and I've had it."
I looked at everyone around me, all of us surprised to have just heard that over an airplane intercom. As I got off the plane, I noticed that it looked like the door opposite the one with the jetway was open. I didn't look, but there was light coming in where normally there's no light. The other flight attendants were talking about someone who was having a really bad day.
I got to the AirTrain terminal and the JetBlue flight attendant who'd made the announcement was there. I recognized him from the flight; it looked like he had a cut on his forehead. I recognized his voice when he started talking to another passenger from our flight about how he'd just had enough and quit his job. Then he said something about someone using the emergency slide to get off the plane. I still wasn't sure what had happened. I thought a passenger had taken the fun way out.
As we rode the AirTrain to Jamaica Station, he talked about how he'd been a flight attendant for 28 years and he was fed up with this passenger who had a bag problem. He said something like "your bag's right here!" and mimed pulling the emergency slide. He also said that the plane would be out of service the rest of the day to have its emergency slide replaced. I didn't talk to him myself. I stood there listening to his conversation with the other guy, phone in hand, ready to tweet. When we got off at Jamaica, the flight attendant went one way (to the parking lot) and the other passenger walked with me toward the Long Island Rail Road. I asked him if I'd heard correctly that this flight attendant had used the emergency slide to get off the plane, and he confirmed it. That's when I put this on Twitter:
JetBlue story: pissed-off lady demanded her bag, swore at FA. The FA swore back on intercom, quit job, left plane via emergency slide.
And now the story is all over the news.
To be clear about a few things:
The flight was never in danger. We were on the ground, at the gate. None of the passengers on my flight were delayed or detained as far as I know.
The attendant didn't drive away from the tarmac. Somehow he got back into the terminal and got to the AirTrain. He had his bags with him too, so I wonder if he took those down the slide with him.
I feel bad for everyone waiting for the next flight to Pittsburgh. I assume JetBlue turns the same plane around for JFK-PIT, so those people had to wait while JetBlue found another plane for the afternoon flights.
I'm mostly concerned that a flight attendant would lose their cool that way over a bag in the overhead. But I'm sure he's served his last bag of in-flight cookies.