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JetBlue pokes fun at itself over runaway flight attendant

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Flight attendant flees press
  • JetBlue posts blog item about its flight attendant
  • Support has been "so encouraging and so special," Steven Slater says
  • JetBlue will give vouchers to passengers on the flight
  • Slater was arrested Monday after using the plane's emergency chute to leave

New York (CNN) -- JetBlue on Wednesday dispensed vouchers to passengers and some levity to the public, two days after one of its flight attendants famously quit following a luggage-bin altercation.

Perhaps realizing that the best answer to the public support of Steven Slater might be humor, the company's blog had a posting entitled, "Sometimes the weird news is about us."

The blog read, "It wouldn't be fair for us to point out absurdities in other corners of the industry without acknowledging when it's about us. Well this week's news certainly falls into that category. Perhaps you heard a little story about one of our flight attendants?"

"While we can't discuss the details of what is an ongoing investigation, plenty of others have already formed opinions on the matter. Like, the entire Internet."

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The blog also praises 2,300 "fantastic, awesome and professional Inflight Crewmembers."

The case of Slater has been a web sensation, and some consider him a folk hero.

According to blogs and accounts, Slater received a small gash on his head during an altercation with a passenger. In a blaze of "take this job and shove it," he reportedly used some profanity on the plane's intercom, said he was quitting, grabbed some beers and deployed the plane's chute before sliding down and running away.

Meanwhile, each person on the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to New York flight Monday will receive a $100 voucher, JetBlue said.

"This is consistent with our long-standing policies," spokesman Steve Stampley told CNN. "JetBlue often provides vouchers to our customers when they experience a disruption or otherwise abnormal circumstance. This event falls into that category."

Slater, who faces criminal charges in the incident, told CNN affiliate WABC Wednesday that support from the public has been "so encouraging and so special."

"There's some really great people out there, and I'm getting a glimpse of that," he said. "It's a surprise because, obviously, I have been away for a little while."

Slater left a Bronx detention center Tuesday night. Slater had a scratch on his forehead.

He said, it was "more than likely" he will lose his job.

Slater's mother, Diane Slater, defended him in an interview with CNN affiliate KABC.

"I don't think he's going to be in trouble very long. I think he just had a very small meltdown, and I think he deserves to be able to have that meltdown if you saw the egg on his head where he got smacked," she said.

Slater was arrested at his home after the incident at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport after the flight landed. He was charged with criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and criminal trespass, according to the Queens District Attorney's Office.

The tension between Slater and the passenger apparently began in Pittsburgh, where the flight originated.

A female passenger "was struggling to shove her carry-on luggage (into the overhead bin) and she was competing with another passenger for the slot. They were shoving luggage around," said Slater's attorney, Howard Turman. "He (Slater) came over to assist, she started cursing and -- based on the information -- slammed the overhead luggage bin on his (Slater's) head," Turman said.

Turman said the female passenger said "F--- you" to Slater.

After the flight landed at JFK, Slater approached the female passenger who was retrieving her bag from the bin while the plane was still taxiing to the gate, according to a source familiar with the incident. Passengers are required to stay in their seats with their seat belts fastened until the pilot has reached the gate and gives the all-clear sign.

The passenger cursed Slater again, Turman said. Her fury grew upon learning she would have to wait at baggage claim to retrieve luggage she was forced to check at the gate.

At that point, Slater got on the plane's public address system. Passenger Phil Catelinet wrote on his blog that Slater said, "To the passenger who just called me a motherf-----: f--- you. I've been in this business 20 years, and I've had it."

When the plane stopped at the gate, Slater grabbed some beer from the beverage cart before deploying the emergency slide and leaving.

JetBlue announced Tuesday that Slater has been suspended pending an investigation. The airline declined to specify whether the suspension is a paid leave of absence.

Slater smiled as he entered a courtroom Tuesday for his arraignment. He was ordered held on $2,500 bond and not to have contact with two specific JetBlue employees.

Turman described his client as "a dedicated son" who has been flying to California regularly to attend to his mother, who is suffering from Stage 4 lung cancer.

The second-degree criminal mischief and the first-degree reckless endangerment charges are felonies that could land Slater in jail for seven years if convicted, authorities said.

The JetBlue blog had a host of comments after the posting.

"Everyone on the web is supporting Steven, but not his company," one comment read. "That's a pity ... That's a bad ad for you. Support your workers as all your customers are doing."

CNN's Richard Davis, Allan Chernoff, Julian Cummings, Susan Candiotti, Laura Batchelor and Jesse Solomon contributed to this report.