Alec Baldwin was kicked off of an American Airlines flight on Monday, in part, for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends, but the 30 Rock star certainly had no shortage of words when he wrote a piece for The Huffington Post regarding the incident titled “My Flying Lesson.” (Ah, if only Carol had been his Captain!)
The now Twitter-less star (he quit the social networking site hours after sending out a series of angry tweets at the airline) had way more than a 140 characters in what can only be described as a non-apology apology. While Baldwin does begin his open letter by apologizing to his fellow passengers on the flight (“It was never my intention to inconvenience anyone”) the actor mostly aired his frustrations with the airline industry in general.
“I have learned a valuable lesson. Airlines in the US are struggling with fuel costs, labor costs, bankruptcies, you name it. It’s no secret that the level of service on US carriers has deteriorated to a point that would make Howard Hughes red-faced. Filthy planes, barely edible meals, cuts in jet service to less-traveled locations. One of the big changes, in my time, is in the increase of the post-9/11, paramilitary bearing of much of the air travel business. 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.”
As far as why he got in trouble, Baldwin said a particular flight attendant aboard the plane “decided to make some example of me” and, in turn, got “the better of me.” The actor explained, “While other people were still manipulating their own phones, this one employee singled me out to put my phone away. Afterward, we still sat at the gate. I pulled out my phone again, while others did the same. Again, I was singled out by this woman in the most unpleasant of tones … Everyone else was left undisturbed.”
However, in a statement posted Wednesday on their Facebook page, American Airlines said that not only did Baldwin ignore FAA regulations, but at one point he took his phone into the lavatory and began calling the crew inappropriate names. According to Reuters, Baldwin was removed from the plane after becoming “violent, abusive and aggressive,” and the actor, who was booked on another American Airlines flight after that, was back on the 30 Rock set by Wednesday.
Baldwin concluded – before throwing in one last “apology to my fellow travelers” for good measure – in his post, “Most of the flight attendants I have ever encountered still have some remnant of the old idea of service. Add to that the notion that in this day and age, many people have a lot of important work to do, by phone, and would like to do so till the last possible minute. But there are many now who walk the aisles of an airplane with a whistle around their neck and a clipboard in their hands and they have made flying a Greyhound bus experience. The lesson I’ve learned is to keep my phone off when the 1950’s gym teacher is on duty. That was my fault there, even though this trip was quite a bit different from so many others. But it is sad, I think, that you’ve got to fly overseas today in order to bring back what has been thrown overboard by US carriers in terms of common sense, style, and service.”
Perhaps Baldwin simply forgot Jack Donaghy’s old adage, “What keeps people polite on airplanes? A shared hatred for the CBS sitcoms they’re forced to watch.”