Alec Baldwin apologises to passengers for delaying flight by playing with phone
ALEC Baldwin has issued an apology to passengers on an American Airlirline flight who were delayed when he refused to stop playing a computer game.
The 53-year-old actor was removed from a flight in Los Angeles yesterday after failing to turn off his phone – originally thought to have been an iPad according to Baldwin’s spokesman Matthew Hiltzik.
The 30 Rock TV star vented his frustration at being ejected from the New-York bound flight on his Twitter account, mocking American Airlines as a company "where Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950's find jobs as flight attendants."
Baldwin released a statement today, posted to the Huffington Post website, apologising to other passengers but stopped short of apologising to cabin crew or the airline.
The veteran actor's note instead lamented the state of modern air travel and the financial struggles of airlines, saying the result is that air travel has devolved into an inelegant experience, akin to riding a Greyhound bus.
Baldwin said the level of service on US carriers has deteriorated.
"Filthy planes, barely edible meals, cuts in jet service to less-traveled locations," Baldwin said.
Baldwin writes that increased security on commercial airplanes after the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks has resulted in a "paramilitary" aura around air travel.
"September 11th was a horrific day in the airline industry, yet in the wake of that event, I believe carriers and airports have used that as an excuse to make the air travel experience as inelegant as possible," Baldwin writes.
Baldwin's letter is the latest volley in a dustup with American Airlines. The airline took to social media itself today to maintain it was following federal regulations when it booted an "extremely vocal customer" from a flight for refusing to turn off his phone.
The airline, which earlier cited passenger privacy in declining to discuss the matter, said on the company’s Facebook page that it decided "to provide the actual facts of the matter" after Baldwin stated publicly he had been thrown off the flight.
American Airlines said Federal Aviation Administration regulations require phones and other electronic devices be turned off as soon as the airliner's door has been closed. The company said Baldwin refused to comply.
"The passenger ultimately stood up (with the seat belt light still on for departure) and took his phone into the plane's lavatory," American Airlines said. "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 airline added that Baldwin was "extremely rude" to the flight crew, calling people "inappropriate names" and using offensive language.
Baldwin's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, said it was the flight attendant who acted inappropriately. He said other people on the plane were violating the regulation and that Baldwin was singled out.
"The plane was already delayed half an hour at the gate when Alec was playing 'Words with Friends,'" Mr Hiltzik told The Associated Press. "Other passengers who tweeted flagrantly violated these rules without any repercussions - proving that they were obviously selectively enforced."
Airport police have said they did not respond to the incident.
Baldwin deactived his Twitter account after the incident, but his spokesman insisted this was because he was setting aside his Twitter activity to concentrate on "30 Rock."