Alec Baldwin apologized to fellow fliers after he was kicked off an American Airlines plane, but continued a war of words with the airline. NBC's Jeff Rossen reports.
Bad boy actor Alec Baldwin, already known for his colorful personality, got himself kicked off an American Airlines flight Tuesday for ignoring flight attendant requests to power off his iPad.
Baldwin (who was apparently playing the popular game Words with Friends when asked to turn off his iPad) joins a list of other celebrities, including actor Josh Duhamel, Green Day’s Billie Joe Armstrong and diva crooner Whitney Houston, who have had in-flight kerfuffles in the past year.
Are these incidents a sign of a toxic celebrity entitlement culture or an understandable reaction to the stressful nature of travel these days?
“I think especially the first-class passengers feel entitled,” said George Hobica, founder of Airfarewatchdog.com and a frequent flier. “They expect more than the airlines, at least the domestic ones, are prepared to provide. I see bad behavior all the time, especially in first class. People don’t say ‘please’ and ‘thank you.’ I flew from Los Angeles to New York yesterday and the guy sitting next to me, when attendants told people to shut off their electronic devices, just put it in his pocket and didn’t shut it off. I see it all the time — flight attendants must ask three or four times, ‘Oh please, sir, put it away.’ It’s like dealing with children.”
American Airlines posted a statement about the Baldwin incident on its Facebook page, asserting that “when the door is closed for departure and the seat belt light is turned on, all cell phones and electronic devices must be turned off for taxi-out and take-off. This passenger declined to turn off his cell phone when asked to do so at the appropriate time. 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.”
For his part, Baldwin tweeted after the incident, “Flt attendant on AA reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat @ gate, not moving.”
The FAA did not comment specifically on the incident, but spokeswoman Alison Duquette did say, “Our rules and expectations are that passengers abide by the directions given by the cabin crew.”
Travel psychologist Michael Brein of Bainbridge Island, Wash., cautioned that the exact details of the incident aren’t clear and that there are always two sides to such stories. Travel personnel sometimes ramp up inappropriately, too, he said.
Actor Alec Baldwin was thrown off an American Airlines flight from Los Angeles to New York because he wouldn't turn off his iPad. NBC's Brian Williams reports.
And everyone is tense, because flying isn’t exactly a lot of fun these days, from pat-downs by the Transportation Security Administration to crowded flights and struggles with heavy carry-on baggage.
“Take it with a grain of salt,” Brein said. “That sense of entitlement works two ways. We think that celebrities are acting out of a sense of entitlement because we think that’s what celebrities do. But the level of frustration (for travelers) begins with the TSA. Our level of discomfort and anxiety is higher than it used to be because of this. Flight personnel, because of the power of the TSA and their increased power of deciding who is flying and who doesn’t, have a sense of entitlement as well.”
And that’s led to increasing rudeness on the part of both passengers and airline employees, he said. “Maybe Alec Baldwin boarded that plane having a bad experience through the TSA, and that ratchets up his discomfort and anger…(and) the person on working on the aircraft are asking things a little inappropriately because of their levels of frustration.”
The solution? Listen to your mother and use your party manners when traveling.
“It’s just an effort everyone is going to have to make,” Brein said. “Be conscious of and make more of effort to be polite.”
More on Overhead Bin
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- Another elderly flier claims TSA strip-search at JFK
Elaine Porterfield is an msnbc.com contributor.