By now you've probably heard about the little issue Alec Baldwin ran into on Tuesday. If not, here's the recap: While onboard American Airlines flight 4 from Los Angeles International Airport to New York's JFK Airport, the "30 Rock" actor allegedly refused to turn off his iPad (or cell phone, depending on the report you read) after being asked to do so by a flight attendant.
Why? Because he was in the middle of a heated game of the online game Words With Friends, of course. Though the plane was delayed and parked at the gate at the time, anyone who's flown in the last 15 years knows the airline powers-that-be are pretty adamant about "powering down" electronic devices after the doors close. Baldwin quickly went from having Words with Friends to having words with flight attendants, and soon found himself booted off the plane.
Thankfully, he kept Twitter followers abreast of the situation, first tweeting, "
Next came: "Now on the 3 o'clock American flight. The flight attendants already look.....smarter."
And then this "I'm not taking the high road" zinger: "#theresalwaysunited Last flight w American. Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950's find jobs as flight attendants." Ouch.
The 53-year-old's publicist happily gave a tongue-in-cheek statement confirming the incident: "Alec was asked to leave the flight for playing 'Words with Friends' while parked at the gate," the spokesman said via a written statement. "He loves WWF so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it, but he has already boarded another AA flight."
But guess what? American Airlines may be an 85-year-old corporation, but it knows how to play the social media game too, responding with: "Mr. Baldwin, we are looking into this." via Twitter.
The airline later posted a lengthy statement on Facebook, which started out with, "Since an extremely vocal customer has publicly identified himself as being removed from an American Airlines flight on Tuesday, Dec. 6, we have elected to provide the actual facts of the matter as well as the FAA regulations which American, and all airlines, must enforce." And also included this play-by-play: "The passenger ultimately stood up (with the seat belt light still on for departure) and took his phone into the plane's lavatory. He slammed the lavatory door so hard, the cockpit crew heard it and became alarmed, even with the cockpit door closed and locked. They immediately contacted the cabin crew to check on the situation. The passenger was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language. Given the facts above, the passenger was removed from the flight and denied boarding."
And if you're wondering if there's a pro boxing element to this story, the answer is yes! Middleweight champ Oscar de la Hoya happened to be on the flight where the spat occurred, and shared this comment with the press upon his arrival at JFK: "I actually felt Alec Baldwin was turning off his devices, and he just got a little angry." Hmm.
Alec -- who's made headlines in the past for his temper, including when he punched a photographer in 1995 and left his then 11-year-old daughter angry voicemails in 2007 -- finally did land in New York later in the day thanks to that "last" American flight. And while he may be returning to business as usual, his Twitter account isn't. After posting an odd final tweet Tuesday in attempt to get less followers -- "I want to crash this acct and start again. But, tonight at 10 PM, NY time, unfollow me." -- the actor abruptly closed his account which had grown to 600,000 followers.
So was the hot-headed Baldwin in the wrong for not heeding the flight attendants' instructions to begin with (and then, if you believe AA's Facebook post, storming into the bathroom and being rude to the crew)? Probably. But should airlines consider revamping their rules to cut passengers some slack when they're delayed on the tarmac? Maybe. All I know is, I don't want to have to relay this story to my grandmother. I'm still exhausted from explaining voicemail.