Flight attendant who exited plane by emergency slide calls himself a hero

You’ve surely heard about Steven Slater, the Jet Blue airline attendant who told a passenger off over the in-flight intercom, resigned, grabbed a couple of beers and then activated the emergency exit to slide out of his career in style. People are heralding Slater as a kind of anti-hero in one of the most frustrating industries. Others are saying his actions were dangerous and could have killed someone.

Slater maintains that he was provoked by an abusive passenger who deliberately hit him in the head with the door from the overhead luggage compartment, gashing his head. Jet Blue wants their workers to realize how out of line the guy was and how his actions could have killed people working around the plane, which was in the process of unloading passengers at JFK airport at the time. They issued a letter to employees reminding them of the seriousness of the situation and asking them to avoid speaking to the media.

Slater was arrested at home in Queens about a half an hour after his memorable resignation. He was sent to jail for a few hours and was released last night after making bail. He spoke to media outside, and allegedly called himself a “hero”. It’s hard to tell in the video that Radar posts, and it sounds like he’s responding to other people bringing up the “hero” label first.

Fired-up flight attendant Steven Slater was walking on air as he emerged from jail Tuesday night as a folk hero.

“I knew there was a brouhaha about this, but while I was on the inside I didn’t realize how much attention it got,” said Slater, wearing the same T-shirt and plaid shorts he had on when arrested a day earlier.

“I think something about this resonated with people. The outpouring of support is very appreciated. I’m overwhelmed, very thankful,” Slater said after being released from the Vernon C. Bain Center in Hunts Point, the Bronx, after posting $2,500 bail.

Slater, 38, was transformed into a folk hero after he cursed out a nasty passenger over a plane intercom, grabbed some beer and fled down an emergency slide at Kennedy Airport Sunday.

“It’s been a good time,” a beaming Slater said, as employees leaving the lockup shouted, “You’re a hero” and “You’re a celebrity.”

Relishing in his cult status, Slater even joked about his short stay in the slammer. “I feel tired, I feel about how I did when that suitcase fell on me.”Then he pointed to cuts and bruises on his forehead that he called “aviation-related.”

But Slater’s flight to freedom hit a little turbulence. Freaked out by the media horde following his livery car, Slater’s driver returned him to the jail after a 10-minute ride.

“The food was just too good,” Slater deadpanned about why he returned.

A lot of people agree that Slater didn’t commit a crime, and that includes his mother, his lawyer – and about half the world.

“I can understand why he snapped. I would have snapped, too,” Diane Slater said Tuesday after her son pleaded not guilty to criminal charges.

“I think he just had a very small meltdown, and I think he deserved to be able to have that meltdown.”

And she isn’t the only one.

“I lost patience after a female passenger had an argument with another passenger and then opened the bin door, hitting me on the head without apologizing,” Slater told cops.

In his announcement to passengers on the flight out of Pittsburgh, Slater referred to the woman as “the f—–g a–hole that told me to f–k off.”

He then declared, “I’ve had it. That’s it,” witnesses said.

Slater’s Legal Aid lawyer, Howard Turman, said his client was trying to defuse a testy situation when the passenger, who has not been identified, started giving him hell after the plane landed.

“He was trying to do his best in providing safety and you have rudeness and lack of courtesy among the traveling public,” Turman said.

“The woman was outraged and cursed him out a great deal. At that point, I think, he just wanted to avoid conflict with her.”

Through his lawyer, Slater pleaded not guilty to criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing charges.

Authorities said Slater endangered jetBlue employees under the aircraft when he activated the emergency slide, which costs more than $25,000 to replace.

[From The NY Daily News]

Slater faces up to seven years in prison after this stunt. It’s not likely he’ll face large legal fees alone. He has many facebook fan pages including a “legal defense fund” (that may or may not be legit) and fellow flight attendants are trying to raise money for him. You may wonder what’s next for him after he deals with criminal charges. Given the way the public has embraced him I’m sure he can spin this into some kind of media or endorsement career. Hell I’d much rather see a reality show with this guy than with with Levi Johnston.



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62 Responses to “Flight attendant who exited plane by emergency slide calls himself a hero”

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  1. canadianchick says:

    It’s hilarious-I wish I was on that flight, would’ve laughed and likely nearly choked on my stale snack.

  2. trillian says:

    OMG I am so over him already. Doesn’t anyone else think he’s super-annoying? That pic alone *ugh*. For a few seconds I thought it was funny and certainly something everyone who has to deal with rude customers would dream of but now I just think he overreacted big time and is now trying to cash in on his unprofessionalism.

  3. Luci says:

    this guy is f*cking awesome
    flight attendands have to putup with so much shit

  4. gabs says:

    I LOVE HIM SO MUCH! He is my hero now for reals. I hope he doesnt get jail time that would suck. FREE STEVEN SLATER

  5. LisaMarie says:

    Awesome right up to the inflation of the slide. That part could have been dangerous, but thankfully it wasn’t. I totally sympathize though. When I was a waitress there were more than a few customers that I would have enjoyed throwing glasses of water at. Customers suck.

  6. K says:

    I think he’s a hero for everyone who has ever worked some kind of customer service job and wishes they could have done something like this to an a–hole customer. I’ll never understand why people think it’s ok to be rude and abusive to service staff, flight attendants, or service providers. We’re just trying to do our jobs! Sit down and shut the f-ck up!

  7. Adrien says:

    Love him.

  8. Stephie says:

    What’s so awesome about a likely rude employee being even more rude to obnoxious customers? Applauding his temper tantrum is really counter productive to me. You might as well light a neon sign encouraging more disgruntled employees to go postal. This is not acceptable behavior.

  9. cutie says:

    Couldn’t he just cuss the passenger out and then disembark the normal way? He cost the airline $25,000 even if he doesn’t get jail time, they’ll come at him for sure.
    Drama Queen alert!!

  10. lucy2 says:

    LisaMarie, I agree – don’t blame him for snapping, and while the image of him quitting and sliding away is kinda funny, it was dangerous and he should have known better.
    However, I think the passenger who caused the disturbance on the flight needs to be held accountable too, if they refused to follow the safety instructions. Why do people have to be such jerks?

  11. SammyHammy says:

    I was sympathetic to him at first, but after reading what he said, forget it. While I understand being frustrated on the job, we ALL have been there before to some degree. That’s no excuse to act out the way he did. it was completely planned and he had every intention of doing this to get publicity.

    “While I was on the inside…” as though he had just spend a long stretch on a chain gang? Please.

    No question in my mind at all that he’s trying to get a reality show. That’s all it is.

  12. LindyLou says:

    @ K – I co-sign everything you said. I used to have a customer service job years ago and rude, abusive people can really ruin your day. It gets to you after a few years of taking crap and I totally understand why he lost it.

  13. bnice says:

    I don’t know–I definitely have had days in “customer service” positions where I wanted to throw a big fit and cuss at a rude person (who treated me as if I was beneath them because of my career choice) and stalk out dramatically. And it would be hard to stalk out through a crowd trying to leave the plane. I think he made a split-second choice that was very poor, and he should have to pay some restitution–but I totally understand where he was coming from, and doubt that he did it for media attention. I think he just wanted to say SCREW YOU to the whole situation as loudly as he could.

  14. MSat says:

    I travel quite often for my work, and the flight attendants I’ve encountered have been nothing but professional, polite and helpful. They also put up with a lot of shit from spoiled, a-hole customers who think the rules don’t apply to them. I don’t know how they do it. I’d be punching people in the mouth and dropping F-bombs every day if I had that job.

    You can see the gash in this guy’s head caused by the incident with the overhead cargo door. Do I think he was being a tad melodramatic? Probably. But the whole story brings to light the ridiculous amount of abuse these flight attendants deal with, day in and day out.

  15. eja102 says:

    I am a server, in a hotel restaurant, and deal with rude people all the time.

    I don’t get why he didn’t just call security to escort her out?

    he seems like an arse.

  16. Andrea-2 says:

    Airlines need to hold passengers accountable for their behavior and stand up for their employees. I mean, if he hadn’t done what he had, do you really we would have heard about the abuse he took?

    No, he would have just had to get a cold compress for his head and get the plane ready for the next round of a-holes who were ready to fly “the friendly skies”. Is this really the work environment that is accepted for people now?

  17. pookie says:

    What the hell is so hard about getting on a plane, sitting in your seat, and sleeping or reading until you get to your destination? Say thank you after you get your drink, and hope for a ride that isn’t too bumpy. When you land, get your crap and get off the plane. Is this really THAT difficult? I haven’t read yet exactly WHAT provoked all of this or how it escalated to the point it did. So it’s hard to judge on whether his reaction was out of line. But speaking as someone who was a waitress for a mere six months, normal people become MONSTERS as soon as they become a ‘customer’. There are plenty of people I would have looooooved to douse in hot coffee and fondue on a daily basis. My hats off to this guy for not putting up with someone being abusive!!!

  18. pebbles says:

    Kudos to the reporter who could completely look all serious while saying that Slater “grabbed beer” before disembarking the plane.
    That being said, I understand Slater. I have worked in customer service and nothing is worse than someone who thinks that he/she is better than you because you are currently in a position to “serve” them. Ugh.
    Was he being dramatic? Yes. But he doesn’t deserve jail time…..
    in court today in my area, a man is on trial for beating to death his girlfriend’s 17-month old son……now THAT a–hole should go to jail.

  19. texasmom says:

    I feel for the guy, I do, but if he had just gotten a cold compress, the passenger would be prosecutable, not him!

    (Plus, he has a bad case of the smirks.)

  20. bros says:

    I agree with andrea-2.

    we all reach our breaking point. its not like he was hot-blooded his entire career as a flight attendant. he was doing this for 18 years.

    flight attendants’ first duty is safety and that is what they are trained in for the most part, not how to serve soda. when some out of line passenger starts putting others at risk, they are there to protect the rest of us, and I definitely think that the passenger whose actions resulted in a head injury to him ought to be prosecuted as well. what a stupid bitch. and of course we dont know her name-she got away scott free it appears.

  21. Fluffy Kitten Tail says:

    I cannot be on any side- I have seen passengers treated rudely by flight attendants and I have seen passengers be incredibly rude too. People in general are rude everywhere.

  22. tvf says:

    Did he really start spewing profanity over the plane’s intercom? I suppose there were no preschoolers on the flight at all.

  23. tooey says:

    Has anyone here ever watched “Airline”? There’s something about flying that totally makes people lose their minds! I finally stopped watching that show because I couldn’t stand the people. One family actually went ballistic because the plane took off without them. Nevermind that they were TWO AND A HALF HOURS late!

    I worked retail years ago and it was hard enough then. I think manners and people have declined to such a degree that I wouldn’t go a week without telling someone to shove it. I’d rather work with prison inmates.

  24. funnygirl says:

    I love what this guy did; and only until you work in customer service for several years will you “get it.” i was a server for years and cannot tell you how much s*** you have to put up with…
    it’s usually not the customer; it’s the compilation of THOUSANDS of customers, than one day, you snap.
    I almost snapped one day when a black girl snapped her fingers, grabbed me by shirt sleeve and said “Hey, white girl, can I have some more tea?”
    I just didnt have the balls to dump tea all over her head; scream; cuss her out and run to freedom. Sad thing is that the restaurant/airline will never get behind their employees…even if they’ve worked for a long time; doing a great job….customer’s always right…sad.

  25. snowball says:

    Funny, yes. Dangerous, yes. You can make a dramatic exit without deploying a $25K chute you know isn’t safe. The expletives over the intercom system along with stomping off to the employee area to disembark alone would have been sort of enough.

    Didn’t this guy have to take a little vacation before? dlisted has the link to it, I saw it there yesterday but can’t remember the specifics, but I seem to remember he had some kind of *issue* before.

  26. denise says:

    LOL!!! There is a reenactment of this on Dlisted.com, it’s hilarious.
    I could imagine the type of abuse these flight attendants have to endure ,esp. with these passengers who have a sense of entitlement. Everyone has a breaking point, his was just a little more dramatic than others.

  27. GrnMtGirl says:

    I too cannot understand how it is that people think it is okay to treat people who work in the service industry like crap. Not to mention how people behave when in an airport or on a plane. I mean you are getting into a tin can and Flying…Flying!! You no longer have to sit in a covered wagon to travel across the country – Freakin Behave!!! Sit down, shut off your devices, crack a book, take turns when exiting, and be Nice! Easy-Peasy!!

    Team Slater!!

  28. Feebee says:

    I’ve come across a lot of mean ass, crabby and crappy flight attendants who are so jaded that I want to tell them to just quit it, stop making passengers lives miserable. But I’ve also had to bite my tongue at some of rudest, inconsiderate behaviour displayed by passengers today.

    BUT THIS GUY!!! He snapped and good on him. He didn’t hurt anyone by taking the coolest job exit EVER. He deserves a bit of attention, at least he worked for 20 years unlike some of today’s reality famewhores.

    So much media attention on his action but so little about the stupid rude woman who became his last straw.

    @funnygirl, the customer isn’t always right, being an asshole is not right.

  29. Obvious says:

    Congrats to him. And the passenger should also be prosecuted for abuse (cannot think of the word i’m looking for). As well as fined for not obeying the safety instructions.

    Do i think he was a bit melodramatic? yes, but after working in customer service and tech support (trust me customer service is a breeze compared to the abuse you get at tech support) I can’t say I blame him.

  30. Kristin says:

    Doesn’t this guy get any points for not beating up the passenger? Especially after she hit him? Is the passenger going to get in any trouble?

  31. j. ferber says:

    At first I was against him, but now that I’ve read his story, I understand, though I don’t quite applaud him.

  32. lola lola says:

    If there is really justice in the world, this guy will have all the charges dismissed and will get a fabulous new job. Maybe as a travel agent.

  33. original kate says:

    i am in retail and before that was a waitress and i know the shit you have to put up with dealing with the public. the woman who hit him or whatever should be in jail, and honestly if i were a passenger on that plane i would have told that woman to sit the hell down and shut the fuck up – i’ve done it before. and yes, i’m a nervous flyer and tend to get bossy when people don’t follow the safety rules. but this guy should not be applauded for freaking out. there was a professional way to handle this, and spewing profanities over the intercom and jumping out the plane was not it. how lovely for all the passengers like me who are terrified of flying to have to witness that asshat’s juvenile antics while trapped in a plane. he could have easily started a panic that could result in someone being injured. i’m assuming his melodramatic exit meant the plane was delayed, so the people who did nothing to him may have missed their connecting flights or whatever, so that was thoughtful of him. and the funny thing is the woman who started it all just walked away, instead of being arrested as she should have, and would have, if this guy had just handled it correctly. ah…good times.

  34. Novaraen says:

    I really think that awful passenger that beamed him on the head should be held accountable. Who the eff acts like that on an airplane?? While I do think the whole scenario sounds hilarious, it was dangerous for him to deploy that emergency slide like that.

    Anyway…to those people who say he is smirking in the photos….those photos were taken BEFORE the incident…not after.

  35. Heaven-bound says:

    I totally agree with Andrea-2 and Funnygirl.

    I do not blame the guy. I would go ballistic if someone gave me a laceration on my head!! This is assault. And the verbal abuse… no too much. I think that he snapped after the accumulation of abuse from hundreds of passengers over the years.

    And Funnygirl is right, companies rarely stand by their employees no matter how many years of loyalty and good conduct you may have had. I think that maybe with Jet Blue this is the case. I think that if he had felt safe to address this situation with his superiors and he had felt that they were going to back him up, he would not have done what he did.

  36. hatsumomo says:

    Good on this guy for making it out of there! But I do feel for him, seeing as how he prolly has a ton of legal bills to pay and he’s unemployed. If I was him I would have outed the passenger who assaulted him with the overhead luggage. Some public shame and ridicule sounds like just what the doctor ordered for her!

  37. RHONYC says:

    he was all gansta with his…


    AND i’m taken a couple of buds…ta go! lol!

    classic. :-)

  38. Ron says:

    I love this guy. Love him. If you have not worked with the public, you have no idea. I worked at 2 different VERY high end retailers in Beverly Hills and at both of them there were incidents which were just beyond the pale and I wanted to cuss the customers out. I walked away from one, a celebrity, who threw something at me! Another time a customer spit on a girl I worked with for not taking his return. There is such a lack of civility anymore it’s just sad. I was at the OC Fair last week and held the door open for a woman with her mother in a wheel chair and she was so grateful and said that I was the only person who had done that for her all day. I have to ask, where are the manners anymore? And why do people who work in customer service just have to sit back and take your sh*t?

  39. Bobby the K says:

    Best Headline:

    ‘Flight Attendant Eats, Chutes and Leaves’

  40. kim says:

    He’s a nutjob! What man calls a woman a fing anything? WAH i didnt get an apology so Im going to put everyones safety at risk, cost the airlines alot of money, Steal a beer & stomp off.

    I wish the female passenger kicked his whiny baby little ass!

  41. kim says:

    Its called working in customer service people. If you dont like it get another job. The problem is LAZY people who want a paycheck but dont want to work or goodness forbid go out of their way to be nice to a customer.

    Whining about people in Beverly Hills being rude or being a food server to rude people etc- grow a pair and get over it! If you cant handle it get another job.

    My mother was a flight attendant for 30 years, my grandmother 20 and both are appalled at how rude and unprofessional the majority of flight attendants these days are.

  42. Katyusha says:

    @ kim

    You act as though women never deserve to be called names (by anybody) – props to you if you can go through life like that, but if a woman (or anyone) deserves to be called an f-ing anything, I will sure as hell say it (not at my job though; that’s the exception).

  43. Andrea-2 says:

    When were your mother and grandmother flight attendants? When did they retire? People have only really started getting nasty (as a norm and not an exception) in the last 20 years.
    I’m not trying to start anything; I just think it’s really important to date things.

  44. jane16 says:

    Does anyone know if anything happened to the passenger who was pulling her crap out of the bin while the plane was taxiing? Besides what she did to this guy, she could have injured another passenger sitting nearby, even a baby or someone.

  45. Iggles says:

    He IS a hero! Customer service is tough. I worked at a movie theater as a box office agent. Trust me, people suck!

  46. Ron says:

    Hey Kim-
    When did doing anything as a customer become right? When? I hope you are lucky enough to have a bottle of cologne lobbed at your head or to have the delighful customer who spit on my collegue. There is a level of civility that is required by all humans. Just becuase a persons job is to wait on you doesn’t mean you have the right to abuse them verbally or otherwise. And it’s not whining. It’s just stating the facts. Know the difference.

  47. a says:

    although he was out of line, mr. jet blue definitely symbolizes the frustrations most workers feel… since the “customer is always right” it enables people to be jerks and it gets worse and worse…

    he needs a call-in radio talk show. it would awesome.

  48. Obvious says:

    When I did IT work i was constantly cussed out multiple times a day because someone had screwed something up on their computers and were upset that i couldn’t push a button and fix it.

    in customer service a woman violated our return policy, destroyed the product cussed at me for 20 minutes, chucked product at my head then went to go complain to my boss and get me fired. I supposed it shouldn’t call her an f’in anyhting either?

    Just because we work in customer service doesn’t mean were lazy. and many of enjoy the job-it’s the customers like we’ve described that make us hate it. and if we quit who would take our place? many people don’t last more then a few weeks/months in the industry because they can’t take the abuse. stop and think before you spew your nonsnense

  49. lrm says:

    yea and most customer service i deal with are on ‘scripts’ and act like katie robo bride holmes…’anything else you need today? find everything you need?’
    they look like deer in headlights if you answer anything out of the script that is,oh,normal conversation between to human beings.

    that said, flight attendants have been rude for decades,and now that 9/11 happened, they are even worse. They rarely are nice to me-and i’m a totally quiet, hardly ask for anything, rarely get up kind of passenger.

    And, yes, people are SO much ruder today-and I pretty much hate flying b/c 9 out of 10 people will have too much luggage, have their computers playing full volume behind me (yes, a woman had her kid watching a video the whole freakin’ flight!!! I have children, and they manage to do a flight w/o a computer or video game at all.)! or in general acting like rude a*sholes the whole flight.

    It’s insane out there.
    Solution: Stop shopping and flying. (:

    And yes, I have worked in customer service-for a decade or more. It’s awful, so I got out.

  50. HotPockets says:

    He IS a hero to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time working in customer service!

  51. Kali says:

    This guy is an idiot. I’ve worked in customer service and some of the customers are rude. It’s part of the job. Most rude customers are unhappy people and their obnoxious behaviour isn’t personal – they are rude with everyone. You laugh about them when they leave and they make for good stories to tell your friends about! Steven Slater is going to have a hard time finding a new job after getting his 15 minutes of fame by being totally unprofessional. Has this guy heard that we’re in a recession?

  52. MSMLNP says:

    An adult behaving badly in response to another adult behaving badly. Tell me how one is a hero here.

    I’ve worked in customer service. I understand what it is like to be abused. I have been spit on and have had things thrown at me. While not acceptable actions, it is also not acceptable for me to spit and throw back.

    If the woman bonked him off the head intentionally, file an assault charge. But a giant hissy fit and a press tour makes you look like an arse.

  53. BurntSalt says:

    Most flight attendants are stuck up a holes. The gay men are especially the worst. People will hear of him having attitude problems in the past. I am so sure of this. His mother having cancer just made it worse this time.

  54. chasingadalia says:

    Tsk tsk. Couldn’t quit via a whiteboard photo essay like normal people.

    But I do find this pretty funny, since no one was hurt and all.

  55. Kate says:

    Love love love his crazy ass!

    Anyone who has worked with the public can relate to the disgusting behaviors people exhibit while being served.

    Our culture places far too much emphasis on “the customer is always right”…. sometimes the customer is just a piece of shit who needs a pimp-slap.

  56. Dingles says:

    This man IS a hero as far as I’m concerned. Anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t worked in customer service. I hope he gets thousands upon thousands of dollars out of this.

  57. Ruffian9 says:

    MSMLNP: There’s often someone who expresses my thoughts in a post better than I can. Well said, MSMLNP, particularly your apt use of the word ‘arse’. Cheers.

  58. Annabelle says:

    Kim you obviously have no idea.
    Not wanting to be abused is not “laziness” as you put it. Why the f should we put up with rudeness? If you are rude to me, I will be rude to you. Get over THAT.

    I think his exit was dramatic and potentially dangerous yes, but I think this highlights the high expectations we place on customer service staff. We expect them to be robotic and not react when they’ve just been assaulted over the head?? I get that he could have acted differently, but sometimes you snap.

  59. oduroyal says:

    I love this guy lol! I mean most of us at work have wanted to cuss somebody out and then say I quit this bitch!!!! LMAO!

  60. trashaddict says:

    Reminds me of one of my favorite lines from “A Good Year”: ‘In France, the customer is always WRONG.’ In this politically correct world, sometimes obnoxious “clients” go along for years abusing everybody in their path, I think because at some point in their childhood they didn’t get the spanking or at least the verbal dressing down that they so desperately deserved. My mom taught me to respect everybody, and I do mean everybody, from day one.
    That being said, being generally civil has such huge paybacks, it does blow my mind that people have difficulty practicing it. Whatever happened to walking in the other person’s shoes? People in service industries can’t just walk away when things go wrong, even when their temper may tell them that’s the safer thing to do. I try to remember that and behave accordingly, especially since I never know what kind of day that person’s been having.
    If they do prosecute this poor bastard, his lawyer should go full tilt on the “out of his head due to head trauma” defense, and depose the obnoxious bitch who swore at him.

  61. Laura says:

    In the vein of all the other funny customer stories (I have a billion but this was my first super out of line one so it stuck with me):
    When I was 16 I worked at a department store. When I was working the fitting rooms I was REQUIRED to take the garments from the customer and count them personally before giving them a number card (for theft prevention). Most people understood.
    One black lady, however, when I attempted to do my job, shrieked, ‘Oh, of course, I’m black, so I MUST be trying to steal!!!’ and threw her garments at me. I managed to keep my cool, counted them, and gave her a number card. She stomped into a cubicle, only to come out a minute later and throw a hanger at my head. I was 16 and trying to do my job like they said, lady.

  62. Margaret says:

    The actions of this attendant were a little bizarre but I doubt that he is a mean-spirited person. Over the years I’ve taken many, many long-haul flights and have witnessed and experienced rude, power-tripping behaviour on the part of flight attendants. Some of them are sadists! They know you can’t get off the plane (!!) and seem to do all they can to make passengers feel even more uncomfortable than they already feel – after all, it isn’t NORMAL to remain confined in a small space for long hours at a time! That being said, check-in crew are the worst culprits – Air Canada, for instance, employs far too many butch, thick-wasted, menopausal individuals who have absolutely no manners and no consideration for harried passengers. British Airways staff are wonderful, as are Thai staff and practically all Asian flight attendants. And I know some people won’t agree with me, but I love United Airlines staff.