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Airline responds as dustup with Baldwin continues
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Alec Baldwin’s dustup with American Airlines continued for a second day Wednesday, with the airline taking to social media to maintain it was following federal regulations when it booted an “extremely vocal customer” from a flight for refusing to shut off his cellphone.
The airline, which earlier cited passenger privacy in declining to discuss the matter, said on its Facebook page it decided “to provide the actual facts of the matter” after Baldwin stated publicly he had gotten kicked off the flight.
The company never cited the “30 Rock” TV star by name.
Baldwin took to Twitter after Tuesday’s incident at Los Angeles International Airport, saying he was asked to leave a New York-bound plane after a “flight attendant on American reamed me out” for playing a game on his cellphone. Baldwin said he was playing “Words With Friends” while the plane sat at a gate.
American said on Facebook Wednesday that Federal Aviation Administration regulations require that cellphones 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 Wednesday 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,’” 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.
There was no reply from Baldwin on Twitter Wednesday, but that was because his account had been deactivated and all of his previous tweets removed. Hiltzik said that was because the actor was setting aside his Twitter activity to concentrate on “30 Rock.”
At least one other celebrity came to Baldwin’s defense on Twitter.
Boxing great Oscar de la Hoya, who was on the same flight, tweeted that he thought the flight attendant overreacted.
“(at)AlecBaldwin was doing nothing wrong but playing `words’ on his phone,” de la Hoya said.
Baldwin boarded another American Airlines flight to New York after Tuesday’s incident, but said he wouldn’t fly with American again.
By John R. Bolton
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