NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — First he was booted off an American Airlines flight. Then, actor Alec Baldwin booted himself off Twitter. His account, 600,000 followers strong, was deactivated Wednesday after a flight fiasco that has many asking if celebrity misbehavior has gone too far.
But has it? The actor issued a long-winded apology Wednesday evening, appearing to, in his own unique way, ask the nation and American Airlines for their forgiveness:
“First off, I would like to apologize to the other passengers on board the American Airlines flight that I was thrown off of yesterday. It was never my intention to inconvenience anyone with my “issue” with a certain flight attendant,” Baldwin wrote on TheHuffingtonPost.com.
“I suppose a part of my frustration lay with the fact that I had flown American for over 20 years and was brand loyal, in the extreme. The ticketing agents and Admiral’s Club staff have always been nothing but abundantly helpful to me, as I have flown hundreds of thousands of miles with the one carrier.
“My confusion began when the flight, already a half hour behind schedule, boarded, the door closed, and we proceeded to sit at the gate for another fifteen minutes. I then did what I have nearly always done and that was to pull out my phone to complete any other messaging I had to do before take off. In nearly all other instances, the flight attendants seemed to be unbothered by and said nothing about such activity, by me or anyone else, until we actually were pulling away from the gate.
“In this case, 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. I guess the fact that this woman, who had decided to make some example of me, while everyone else was left undisturbed, did get the better of me.
“However, 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.
“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.
“Again, my apology to my fellow travelers.”
Appearing agitated Baldwin made sure CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez remained at arms’ length late Tuesday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
“You gotta watch that thing. You’re gonna get hurt,” Baldwin told Sanchez, as he nudged her and her microphone out of the way after getting off an American Airlines flight in New York.
Prior to issuing his apology, Baldwin seemed to tell all of his Twitter followers to flee.
With this pre-shutdown tweet, “Let’s play a game called Mass Unfollowing. I want to crash this acct (account) and start again.”
Passengers by and large were none too pleased with the fiasco the actor caused on an American flight out of Los Angeles International Airport on Tuesday.
“We were really pretty pissed off,” passenger Kris Engle said.
It began with the LAX to JFK flight all good to go and Baldwin playing a word game on his cell phone.
But then he refused to turn his device off.
He took to Twitter: “Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving.”
American Airlines then blasted the actor on Facebook for leaving out what happened next.
“He slammed the lavatory door so hard, the cockpit crew heard it and became alarmed, even with the cockpit door closed and locked,” the airline said. “The passenger was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language.”
All of this resulted in a 45-minute delay and Baldwin bumped off the flight.
When asked where the fault lies in this sordid episode, one passenger told Sanchez: “Alec Baldwin and he looked a little bit intoxicated to me.”
But not everyone was outraged at the “30 Rock” actor, who has hinted in the past that some day he’d like to run for mayor of New York City.
“I’m sorta pro-Alec,” one passenger said. “I think it’s a whole bunch of things to do about nothing if you want to know the truth.”
While some neighbors and others who know Baldwin called the incident minor there are people who see what they call a disturbing trend.
“You wouldn’t get away with it on a plane. I wouldn’t get away with it. Why does he think he would be special?” crisis management expert Richard Auletta told Carlin on Wednesday.
Auletta said the public is fed up with celebrity misbehavior. He wonders if Baldwin even cares that after several incidents, some consider him a hothead.
“Is this what you’d like? Your children to think of you, your parents to think about you?” Auletta said. “Be a standard bearer for good behavior, not bad behavior.”
Auletta predicts, and as the actor’s apology seems to suggest, when Baldwin takes to the skies in the future he’ll play by the rules.
The Federal Aviation Administration called it “rare” for passengers to get kicked off flights, saying it happens at the discretion of each flight’s captain. In more serious cases officers come on board, but that did not happen in Baldwin’s case.
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