Actor Alec Baldwin was removed from an American Airlines flight on Tuesday for refusing to follow the direction of flight attendants who had asked him to turn off his "portable electronic device" as the cabin doors were closed and the plane was ready for departure.
The performer, who has been awarded multiple Emmys for his portrayal of Jack Donaghy on TV's 30 Rock, decided this time to take on the dual role of petulant child and defiant diva, ignoring simple flight crew instructions and making a scene.
Those of us who don't have much interaction with celebrities of Baldwin's stature could only imagine that perhaps he was finalizing contract negotiations related to a starring role in an upcoming summer blockbuster film, or maybe he was feverishly working with his agent to figure out how to accomodate a last-minute request for an appearance at a high-visibility charity event. Or, maybe he was playing the online game Words With Friends. Yep, seriously.
I've been chastised several times by flight attendants for not turning off my iPad when initially instructed, while I rushed to finish a game of Free Cell, but I've always knuckled under to flight attendant authority prior to the point of expulsion. First off, they are ultimately responsible for public safety. Second, it's not worth the hassle and inconvenience. And thirdly, being dragged from the plane would only blow my concentration anyway. Alec Baldwin doesn't crumble so easily though; the renowned sitcom actor chose to stand tall and fight valiantly...for his right to play cyber Scrabble during a few boring pre-flight moments.
Baldwin was apparently embroiled in such an exciting game of Words With Friends that he was willing to be kicked off the plane and forced to take a later flight, rather than simply pausing his game for the few moments it would take for a safe takeoff to occur. And so it was.
You might think that once he was removed from the heated battleground of First Class, in the subsequent hours as he sat at the gate (or more likely in the American Airlines VIP lounge) waiting for his newly assigned flight to begin boarding, that Baldwin would re-consider his actions, and perhaps realize that he had caused a ridiculous scene and delayed an entire plane full of people over nothing. Wrong, again. Rather than spending time reflecting (or apologizing for being a total douche), Baldwin took to Twitter and began assailing the airlines and insulting the flight attendants.
To my surprise and delight, American Airlines didn't buckle or stay quiet about the incident. Once Baldwin began to Tweet his side of the story, the airlines fought back by posting a full account of Baldwin's childish actions on their Facebook page. While they didn't call him by name, the details clearly coincide with Baldwin's own account of the skirmish. The airlines adds a few tidbits that Baldwin didn't Tweet - like how he subsequently left his seat against instruction as the plane was preparing to depart, and how he then entered the lavatory, slamming the door behind him loud enough to alarm the pilots in the cockpit.
At that point, it was Game Over for the actor. In this day of hyper vigilance in airline safety, that kind of behavior just doesn't fly, and Baldwin was ultimately escorted off the plane.
Alec Baldwin has won Emmy awards for his portrayal of a selfish and brutally insensitive television executive on the hit NBC sitcom 30 Rock. Apparently and sadly, the role of a spoiled thoughtless asshole who expects everyone to kowtow to him is less of a stretch for Baldwin than most of us would have guessed.