Attendant-turned-wing-nut Steven Slater's meltdown was preceded by an argument with a passenger who had told the 39-year-old airline employee from Queens "to f - - k off" after Slater asked him not to remove his baggage from the overhead compartment until the plane had fully stopped, sources said.Slater, for his part, then went on the intercom and cursed out the passenger before leaving in a most dramatic fashion.
The passenger wound up opening his overhead compartment anyway -- striking the seething Slater on the head with the door as it dropped down.
After the plane, which arrived from Pittsburgh, pulled up to Gate 3 at the JetBlue terminal and the Jetway was put in place, passengers began moving to the door.
Suddenly, Slater commandeered the public-address system and launched into a tirade, officials said.
"To the f - - king asshole that told me to f - - k off, it's been a good 28 years!" Slater bellowed incoherently, according to law-enforcement sources.
But that wasn't the end of it.
In a move fitting for an action flick, Slater then grabbed his two bags -- and a can of beer from the galley -- and popped the lever for the airliner's inflatable chute before sliding to the tarmac outside the terminal door.
Slater went and deployed an emergency chute, and fled the airport. He was arrested a short time later at his Belle Harbor home.
His career as a flight attendant is most likely over, but at least he got his Network moment.
The fact is that passengers are an unruly bunch. Many of them do not adhere to the rules that are there for their protection. This incident put him over the edge - literally and figuratively.