2:00 PM EDT, August 10, 2010
Flight attendant Steve Slater lives in a modest ground floor apartment in Belle Harbor, Long Island, just a few miles away from JFK airport where authorities say he infamously freaked out.
So what is it about a flight attendants job that would cause a guy like Slater to totally lose his cool? Plenty of cabin pressure!
The sometimes contentious relationship between passenger and flight attendants is a pop culture standard. There was this scene in the hit comedy Meet the Parents
A flight attendant character says to Ben Stiller's character, "Sorry sir, you're going to have to check that."
"No, I'm not checking it," said Ben Stiller's character.
And this classic episode of Seinfeld:
"Can I get back to my seat?" said Elaine.
"You're going to have to wait," said the flight attendant character.
And if they're not being poked fun at as super stringent rule enforcers, flight attendants are being mocked as flakey and ditzy. And always offering service with a smile.
In years past, sex appeal has been a big part of the job, a trend that seems to be resurfacing with the new reality show Fly Girls, all about five young Virgin America attendants.
But despite the stereotypes, flight attendants do much more than serve coffee and peanuts.
Veda Shook of the Association of Flight Attendants said, "It's life threatening emergencies for health, terrorists threats, accidents, evacuations, that's our primary role -- is to be there to ensure that you have a safe experience."
Their high stress jobs can mean the difference between life and death—something proven by the miracle on the Hudson—where the captain and the cabin crew were credited for saving all of the passengers lives.
Experts say the job has become increasingly more challenging in recent years.
"In general there's a heightened awareness. So certainly, it's like you can't just zip up like Doris Day to the airport, be dropped off like a princess, cruise in and step on an aircraft. It's not like that anymore," said Shook.
It seems all that cabin pressure caught up with this now famous flight attendant.