Overheard on CNN.com: Baldwin's refusal to turn off cell phone no surprise to many
Word of actor Alec Baldwin being booted from an American Airlines plane spread quickly.
December 7th, 2011
03:42 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Baldwin's refusal to turn off cell phone no surprise to many

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Alec Baldwin's addiction to the cell phone game "Words with Friends" got him booted from an American Airlines plane parked at a Los Angeles International Airport gate Tuesday, the actor's spokesman said.

Baldwin tweeted he would never again fly on American Airlines, "where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950's find jobs as flight attendants."

Readers focused on two issues: outrage over Baldwin's behavior toward a flight attendant and frustration over rules about the in-flight use of cell phones and electronic devices. They also commented on Baldwin's past treatment of his daughter and public comments he's made.

Game addiction costs Alec Baldwin his airline seat

Many readers, such as MistrMistr, expressed outrage: "So because he's a 'star' he can break the rules? Then he goes on Twitter and tells his sheep about (it) so they can all be amazed that they would do that to the 'Alec the Great.' But the worst part? American Airlines is kissing his butt."

Other commenters agreed, saying celebrities should not be entitled to special treatment on airplanes.

lcook5: "American Airlines is not a big favorite with me, but this is ridiculous. Not complying with federal flight restrictions should get anyone kicked off a flight. Why do some of the rich and/or famous see themselves as above the law? If I were American Airlines, I would permanently ban him from any additional flights and advise all other airlines of the potential problems if they allow him to fly with them. Baldwin should be ashamed of himself."

Readers said Baldwin was hard on the flight attendant, although there were some who were curious about what happened.

MaddChatter: "I've been on hundreds of flights and never heard a flight attendant give an instruction that should not have been followed. Alec Baldwin would have us believe the flight attendant is at fault. Turn off your game. He should have been arrested on a felony for not following instructions of a flight attendant. You and I would not have been given such a courtesy for forcing the plane to return to the gate impacting all passengers. He hops on the next flight and tweets his peeps as if he was the victim. No. You are the criminal."

cons2tution: "No, what is criminal is that you jump to conclusions without knowing all the facts. How many times was he asked to turn off the device? Was he warned that he needed to turn it off? Was he told - in direct fashion - to turn it off?"

MaddChatter: "@cons2tution: Are you assuming that the plane returned to the gate based on his actions without him being told? What irrational assumption is being made? He only needs to be told once. Yes, he was warned. If you think the plane disembarked without him being told why, you clearly have never been on a plane."

Bad behavior on a plane is nothing unusual, a few commenters noted.

Smyling: "I'm surprised they picked on someone in first class. I've been on flights lately where the people in front of us in economy reclined as we were boarding, and ignored the flight attendants asking them to put their seats upright. Incredible. I've also sat next to someone who kept typing on a laptop as we were landing! The lack of regard for rules of any type on planes is amazing. But the worst were three people who filed and painted their nails on a transatlantic flight - three coats of varnish - and then cut their toenails and painted those! Talk about toxic!"

Some readers mentioned the game wasn't worth the trouble.

JoseinLargo: "I think Baldwin sounds pretty childish in this story."

newFuture2: Sounds like a 'Words With Friends' advertising campaign ('guerilla marketing') actually. Never heard of it ...  and not interested. ...  Life's too short. ...

sadtosay: "The best part is that game is not at all real-time based. Waiting a few minutes to make a move has no more consequence than waiting a day."

One reader took notice of the 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor:

ruseaworthy: "On the day we all pause to remember Pearl Harbor, it's sad to think so many great men died so idiots like this could convince themselves they are somehow important in the history of mankind."

Another noted Baldwin's technology use, connecting it with the late Apple CEO Steve Jobs' reputation for having a caustic personality:

Jeffbaseball: "Baldwin is a reflection of the arrogant tech society. "Me and my personal electronics are more important than you" mentality. It's amazing how narcissistic America thinks only about themselves. Steve Jobs, you did a great job into fueling the fire of American arrogance."

DrTrollworth: "Yes, I blame Steve Jobs entirely for this one. If he hadn't ever influenced America, we wouldn't be in this mess."

There were a lot of comments that addressed what some readers believe is a pattern of behavior in Baldwin's life.

Devices: "This guy makes TV commercials for Capital One Bank one day and goes out to support (Occupy Wall Street) the next day. Now this CNN story adds another black mark to his faltering reputation caused by the gross voice message he left his daughter."

LisaBoo: "Use to like this guy, but remember that recording that was released of him (screaming at) his daughter? Well, I lost a lot of respect for him at that point. And now I'm not surprised at all by this; this man has no regard for rules or how he talks to people."

One reader came to the defense of Catholic school gym teachers everywhere.

Arkady: "What's wrong with being a retired Catholic school gym teacher?! I, myself, did not go to Catholic school. But, back in the day, the one in my area - St. Anthony's - had some of the best lacrosse and football on Long Island! I'd even met some of the guys who went there, and they all seemed like straight-up dudes!"

Another reader said the flight attendant was out of line:

Amemor: "Anyone remember when flight attendants acted like they were happy to have you aboard?"

RusTnuts: "Oh yeah, that was back when people didn't feel it was their right to abuse the people serving them. If Baldwin would have pulled that in a New York McDonald's, he would have got a serious Hollywood beatdown with his fries."

Finally, several commenters wanted to discuss the use of electronics in planes, questioning whether it's necessary to restrict them.

"What a lot fuss about nothing," Aunti  said. "Are the airlines really relying on passengers to turn off electronic devices for safety? I seriously hope not. Are passengers really that dumb that they think their lives could be in danger if a couple of phones or laptops are on? Obviously, yes. Funny, international airlines never worry about such matters and none have fallen from the sky because of it."

sassybw replied that it was largely a concern of projectile objects: "If one flies up and breaks someone's nose, they would get sued."

But a lot of commenters begged to differ on the safety of cell phones while in flight.

PublicAnimal: "The airlines need to stop making people turn off their cell phones before takeoff. If it's in airplane mode, it's incapable of causing any interference. Shoot, even if it's not in airplane mode, it's incapable of causing any interference. I'll never understand why they persist with this annoying custom for absolutely no reason.

AndresDavid: "I'm in the Air Force, and I can tell you that just one cell phone causes an annoying amount of interference, making it difficult to communicate with your co-pilot or the tower. Now, imagine a hundred passengers each with his or her own cell phone. It would make for a very unsafe takeoff/landing."

One commenter said that even a small risk of a plane crash isn't worth taking the chance and that Baldwin's wish to continue playing his game was unreasonable.

ghostridercb: "And when your plane crashes because it interfered with the equipment on a plane, feel free to not sue the airlines for the loss of your loved ones. The cost of an accident, should one occur, could be extremely high in terms of human life and the risk is completely avoidable in that no one absolutely needs to use their mobile phone in flight. The regulatory agencies and aviation industry take the position that any increased risk is unacceptable if it is avoidable.

"Lastly, GSM-based phones can cause a harmonic buzz, which would interfere with a pilot's radio communication. Additionally, while one or two phones might not be enough to impact the frequency's and computers on a plane, 200 to 300 on at once very well could.

"How freaking hard is it to turn off your phone. Baldwin should be booted from every flight where he disrupts the plane's course. If he doesn't like it, he can fly private."

What do you think about these issues? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Air travel • Aviation • Overheard on CNN.com
soundoff (58 Responses)
  1. Sheila

    Whether it's still a logical rule is not the point. You choose to get on an airplane. You are told to fasten your seatbelt, return your chair to the upright position, and turn off all electrical devices. And... somehow you decide they mean everyone but you. Grow up. Follow the rules. Play your game later.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • Joi Gibson



      December 9, 2011 at 12:38 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Sean V.

    In this world right now there are children bravely fighting cancer, soldiers with war wounds courageously learning to walk again, and impoverished people starving to death. Alec Baldwin is upset that he could not play a game on his phone. Thanks for focusing your energetic social activism on such a just cause Alec.

    Flight crew members were the first to be murdered on 9-11. They took to the skies after that event surrounded by the wake of uncertainty and horror. Aviation professionals need to be given our respect. Aviation is the safest form of travel because of the efforts of the professionals in the industry. Distracting a flight crew with a tantrum such as the one displayed by Baldwin is hazardous. Instead of focusing on critical operational elements of the flight, the pilots had to worry about an unruly and abusive passenger. This is unsafe for everyone on board the airplane. Alec, your third-rate acting ability does not give you the right to put the flying public into an unsafe environment.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:27 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Joi Gibson

    Honestly, he could not turn off that contraption for a few minutes while the plane took off.? If a flight attendant asks a passenger to discontinue doing something, then discontinue. It's all simple as that. If you do not like it, then drive. Takeoff and landings are the most sensitive time of flight, trying to prevent even the slightest amount of inteference during such a crucial time seems to me to be more important than playing a game. All he had to do was turn the thing off. Done. How hard can it be.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:36 pm | Report abuse |
  4. DANAH

    I used to like Alec Baldwin, especially when he starred in the "Getaway." He was great in that. However, over time my opinion has chaged. He sounds very arrogant and obnoxious. Not one of my favorites anymore.

    December 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mike D

    What a pig! I guess it runs in the family. Isn't his daughter one, according to him? LOL

    December 9, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  6. kirk p

    Maybe Alec deserved getting the boot. It's important that passengers respect fly attendants. That said, I too will not fly American. I've found them to be over-zealous applying their interpretation of rules and hiding behind FDA regulations.

    December 10, 2011 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  7. Marcia Greenwood, IN

    Hire a driver and have someone take you so you can play your game the whole trip-The guy by me played Angry Birds for 4 hours on his IPad. I played it for 5 min and was bored-I guess it's a difference in boredom tolerance-but to jeapardise everyone, when everyone knows the rules when you fly.-Celebrities get away with too much just because they are better than you and me because. after all. they are famous.

    December 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Wes

    Take him up to 37,000 feet. Push him and his cell phone out the hatch. Close hatch. Celebrate.

    December 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  9. keith a dewey

    I am a general aviation pilot. Cell phones do not interfear with anything except the person sitting next to you. And for not using the expensive airline phone. So it is a wallet issue. The only time you really need a seat belt and up right seats is when you hit something. I have stood in the isle of airplanes taking off and landing. And yes also on bad landings where the pilot has to slam the reverse thrusting. But then you just neet to brace yourself with an arm or wide stance. So the question is do you go along with bad rules or buck them. How does change happen?

    December 16, 2011 at 2:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      "The only time you really need a seat belt and up right seats is when you hit something."

      And we all know that, just before you hit something, the pilot and the flight attendants warn you so that you can straighten up your seat and fasten your seat belt ...

      The chances of you "hitting something" are far greater when the aircraft is on the ground, or leaving the ground, or returning to the ground. This is otherwise known as taxiing, taking off or landing. So it's not unreasonable to ask passengers to do a few minor things for the relatively short time during which the plane is taxiing, taking off or landing that would help to keep them safe in case something is hit.

      As for standing in the aisle during landing: I really don't care about you breaking your neck if you're thrown off balance and come crashing to the deck. I'm concerned about you breaking the neck of the poor passenger you land on. Sit down and be a good boy.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:09 am | Report abuse |
  10. cjcj

    I noticed he didn't say ex Muslim school gym teachers. At least he knows the right religion to insult. He's just a milk toast who picks his places, making sure he doesn't have to be held accountable.

    December 17, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jcjc

      "He picked the right religion to insult"??? Really, why? Are you afraid of the Muslims? Think about... without the Catholics there will be no Protestants like you do.

      December 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  11. rramal

    The power radiated by cell phones,pda's,tablets,laptops etc...etc is tiny. But their emissions can travel out of the cabin windows to the antennas on the outer body of the plane; and cause the planes instrumentation to malfunction.Therefore the FAA regulation requiring airlines to prohibit passenger use of such devices has remained firmly in place.We should all be outraged when we expeience people like this guy purposely ignoring the rules. If i had been sitting next to him there would have been a fight because I am not going let anyone violate a rule on a commercial aircraft I am flying on that is meant to keep me safe and alive.

    December 22, 2011 at 12:45 am | Report abuse |
  12. cleekk

    If you wish to use someone's services, you follow their rules. You break their rules, you suffer the consequences. This is the exact same kind of lunacy that people display when they blame the police officer when they were pulled over for speeding. But I suppose a celebrity is above a lot of the rules so Alec must have thought he was in that gray area.

    December 23, 2011 at 7:49 am | Report abuse |
  13. jcjc

    Ignoramus, Alec Baldwin, doesn't he realize putting the passengers into jeopardy by not following the rules??? That's the problem with poor, third rate actors who couldn't afford to buy their our jet planes. You get what you deserve.

    December 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  14. SamM

    WHO CARES??!!!!! My gosh people.

    July 9, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Report abuse |
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