JetBlue flight attendant's mom defends son

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. Speaking from her /*Thousand Oaks*/ home, Diane Slater defended her son's actions at New York's /*JFK International Airport*/ on Monday.

"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," said Diane Slater, a former flight attendant.

Her son, 38-year-old JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, is accused of losing his temper after having a dispute with a passenger on a plane. Slater reportedly berated the passenger over the plane's public-announcement system and exited the jet by deploying the emergency slide.

The argument apparently began in Pittsburgh before takeoff, when two women were arguing over space in the overhead bins. During the argument, Slater was struck in the head with a luggage bag.

"I also don't think that people who are in the service industry should be abused by anybody whether it be a passenger or family, anybody," said Diane Slater. "I can understand why he snapped, and I would have snapped too. In fact, I probably would have snapped more than he did."

When asked if the passenger who struck her son should face charges, Diane fervently agreed.

"She interfered with a crew member and that's against the law, just as it is smacking him in the head, that's against the law too," she said.

Slater was arrested at his home in Queens a few hours after the incident. He appeared in court on Tuesday to face charges of criminal mischief, reckless endangerment and trespassing -- counts that carry a maximum penalty of seven years in prison. He was later released from jail after posting $2,500 bail.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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