NEW YORK -- The fed-up flight attendant who set a new standard for quitting when he abandoned his job via an emergency chute apparently isn't as much of a quitter as everyone thought.
Steven Slater, 38, said through his lawyer Thursday that he loves flying and wants to go back to work. "His hope is to return to the aviation business," his attorney, Howard Turman, told reporters as Slater stood by his side outside his home in Queens. Flying, he added, "is in his blood."
Slater's career appeared to end Monday when he went onto the public address system after a JetBlue flight from Pittsburgh, cursed out a passenger he said had treated him rudely and then made an I'm-outta-here exit down an emergency chute at Kennedy Airport. He was arrested.
Asked about Slater's desire to return to work, JetBlue spokesman Mateo Lleras said: "As of right now, he has been released of duty pending the investigation. There's nothing more I can say."
Slater's actions have prompted an outpouring of support from people who have fantasized about making a similar exit from an unpleasant job, although passengers have come forward in the past couple of days to criticize him as brusque and cranky throughout the 90-minute trip. One passenger portrayed Slater as the instigator, saying he cursed without provocation at a woman who had asked about her bag.
Slater would not talk about his actions Thursday. He offered a brief thanks to the public, saying, "It's been amazing, the support and love ... everything that's been brought to me."
Turman denied Slater was belligerent and said the entire affair can be blamed on a "lack of civility on the part of one passenger."
Some passengers said he might have been disturbed by an injury. They said he had a large cut or welt on his head -- sustained, his lawyer said, when he tried to help a passenger with a bag too big for the overhead bins.
Lauren Dominijanni, 25, of Pittsburgh, said that during the trip, when she asked Slater for a wipe to clean up coffee that had been spilled on her seat, he rolled his eyes, blurted an exasperated "What?" and gestured to the gash on his head. He then told her he needed to take care of himself first, she said.
Other passengers said that throughout the flight, he slammed galley doors and overhead bins unnecessarily and put an apparent early end to snack service.