Several passengers aboard the plane from which Steven Slater so dramatically disembarked say the JetBlue flight attendant seemed agitated and was being rude himself long before the alleged confrontation that led to his exit – though Slater's ex-wife says she finds that all but impossible to believe.
One passenger on the flight from Pittsburgh to New York said Thursday on NBC's Today show that Slater, 38, was rude to her at the very beginning of the trip, when she asked for a wipe to clean her seat.
"He said, 'Not right now, honey. Maybe when we get in the air. I have to take care of myself first,' " said Lauren Dominijanni. "He actually made me feel pretty uncomfortable. I just let it go after that point."
Another passenger told the Wall Street Journal that Slater was the one who was rude – blurting out an expletive – after the plane landed and a woman inquired about her luggage.
"I didn't think [the passenger] was rude in the least," said Marjorie Briskin. "It really blew my mind. It was so inappropriate."
Ex-Wife Denies ClaimsBut Slater's ex-wife – his former high-school sweetheart (to whom he was married only briefly) – Cynthia Susanne said that doesn't sound like Slater at all.
"Steven is the consummate flight attendant," she said on Today. "He was literally born to fly. … He's just a stellar individual and a gentleman. I find it very difficult to believe he would be rude to anyone, especially in the air."
To walk off the job like he did – by activating and sliding down the emergency exit, an act for which Slater now faces criminal charges – he must have been seriously provoked, Susanne said.
"I'm assuming this passenger must have been the end-all, be-all of something he just didn't want to deal with anymore," she speculated.
Susanne said flight attendants are subjected to abuse more than most people who have to deal with the public. "They are not waitresses of the sky," she said. "They're here to save your lives."