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. banasy©

    Every flight I have ever been on has announced when it's time to turn off all electrical devices, including cell phones.
    Every time.
    Not idly once, but several times.
    He then went into the bathroom to continue his flagrant disregard for the rules of the airline.
    Who does Alec Baldwin think he is, that he is not subject to the rules of the airline?

    The best thing he's ever done was a SNL skit when he was Pete Schwedy selling his Schwedy balls.

    They were right to kick him off the plane.

    December 7, 2011 at 7:46 pm | Report abuse |
  2. clearmind

    Are people really blaming Steve Jobs? That has to be someone messin` around. As far as Alec Baldwin, he isnt doing anything unusual, he is an @ss. Why is this so shocking that it has to be news. If the man acted like a gentleman then there would be cause to write about it.

    December 7, 2011 at 8:22 pm | Report abuse |
  3. banasy©

    Hello, clearmind.
    How are you, my friend?

    December 7, 2011 at 8:43 pm | Report abuse |
  4. RUFFNUTT (pit bull trainer)

    i like words with friends... it's fun.. you "feus" is a word? it's not in the dictionary but work in words with friends...

    December 7, 2011 at 8:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. banasy©

    "I like Schwedy balls in my mouth."
    -Ana Gastmeyer

    "No one can resist my Schwedy balls."

    -Pete Schwedy, aka Alec Baldwin

    December 7, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Report abuse |
  6. clearmind

    @banasy Hey Girl! I doing well, living a blessed life! I hope you are doing great. How is Joey doin? I`ve caught some post but nothing about his health...Where has jazzzzzz been, did something bad go down?

    December 7, 2011 at 8:48 pm | Report abuse |
  7. JU Stone

    The rules about cell phone use did not exist before 9/11. Remember all those calls made from the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania that day? The rules came about to ensure those kinds of calls will never be made again. If cell phones are a safety issue, the terrorists would be bringing planes down all over the place with them. Flight attendants seem to think they have the right to be rude. I've never seen a rude passenger, but I've seen a LOT of rude flight attendants. Personally, I think if they would let us bring our own food and drink on the plane, we could all do without the flight attendants, whose primary mission is supposed to be safety, but is really to serve drinks and provide distractions during the flight. A bank of microwaves would better serve. Better yet, trade 3 flight attendants for 1 cop and call it good.

    December 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • BOMBO

      No, I'm quite sure the cell phone rules were there before 9/11. That was part of the issue. They were breaking the rule, because they were desperate to communicate.

      December 7, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      Cell phone rules have always existed. They're intended to prevent errant radio waves from cell phones and similar devices from adversely affecting the aircraft's avionics.

      I used to cover Space Shuttle launches at the Kennedy Space Center years ago. NASA would allow selected photographers to set up satellite cameras inside the launch safety zone, to take those really close shots of takeoff. Those cameras had to be triggered by the light, sound or heat of the launch. NASA did not allow any type of radio remote trigger to be used, for exactly the same reasons the FAA does not allow cell phones in flight on airplanes - to prevent radio interference with the craft's avionics.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:23 am | Report abuse |
  8. banasy©

    Joey is suffering from some maladies, but is still undergoing testing.

    Jazzz doesn't post here very often anymore; she does pop in every so often.
    As far as I know, she's fine.

    When/if I see them, I'll let them know you asked after them.

    O doing fine; just gearing up for Christmas...my granddaughter's first one!
    I forgot what fun it is to buy toys for little ones...

    I'm glad you're doing well. You are a testament to strength and integrity.

    Stay well, my friend.

    December 7, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jimbo

    Given the financial picture at American Airlines, Mr. Baldwin may not have to worry about any boycott! 🙂

    December 8, 2011 at 12:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. clearmind

    @banasy thank you for the update and please do tell them I asked about them. My wife was mugged and they were teenagers. they said they had adhd and werent able to afford their medication. so they were `acting` out and it got out of hand.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:38 am | Report abuse |
  11. Ali

    Yes, the cell phone rule was in existence before 9/11. Although sometimes I think they go too far, for example I am forced to turn off my kindle even though it's off-line so it's just battery operated at that point, I would far rather err on the side of safety than not. I think Alec Baldwin is a terrific actor, but as a man, he seems to have some serious anger and control issues. You don't have to be a celebrity to be like that – I've known plenty of people like that. Sad.

    December 8, 2011 at 3:40 am | Report abuse |
  12. Howard Hughes

    Baldwin is a J-E-R-K. His career was all but gone until the public heard the tape of him verbally abusing his daughter. Instead of it being the final nail in his professional coffin, Hollywood (and apparently the public) embraced him and he's now more in demand than ever. SNL, TV series, talk show circuit. What does it take these days for the public to turn its back on a celebrity?

    December 8, 2011 at 8:15 am | Report abuse |
  13. tensor

    JU Stone is correct, the "turn off all electronic devices" is a post-9/11 U.S. airline chimera tactic intended as a means of crowd control; it has nothing to do with RF. Remember, it was the cheap, cheesy U.S. airlines and airports that consistently dropped the ball on overall aviation security, not the govt. and not the passengers, refusing for the entire decade leading up to 9/11 to spend one dime on added security such as aviation around the developed world has had for decades, in response to terrorism abroad. In fact, U.S. airlines and airports (which are private corporations, after all) still haven't spent their money ... it's been on the taxpayers' dime and backs of passengers. To all the faux "pilots" posting: h'come no one has to turn off their hearing aid, but they do have to turn off their Kindle?

    December 8, 2011 at 10:23 am | Report abuse |
    • MysticMercury

      The discussion around why passengers are asked to turn off electronic devices has missed one of the critical reasons why this is required. The reason is NOT only because of potential electromagnetic interference.

      Takeoff and landing are the most sensitive/dangerous parts of the flight. There is a simple safety reason why airlines (and federal regulations) don't want people using electronic devices during those parts of the flight-electronic devices are distracting. The airline crew wants to have the greatest possible chance that, if there is some emergency, they will get people's attention quickly. If you have your laptop or your cell phone or your iPod in your hand and are focusing your attention on that, you are likely to be paying less attention to what is going on around you, and, for safety reasons, the flight attendants need to be able to get your full attention quickly....

      December 8, 2011 at 10:39 am | Report abuse |
    • Chuck

      What a silly question ... and a way to obfuscate the issue.

      A hearing aid is an acoustic amplifier, not a radio broadcasting device. And "amplifier" is too broad a term, since what it does is concentrate normal sound waves into the wearer's ear canal. You might as well have asked why pacemaker wearers aren't required to switch off their pacemakers during takeoff and landing ... and I'm sure that pacemakers produce more EMI than hearing aids do.

      Pacemakers are actually a great example of why the FAA thinks it's prudent to cut down on stray EM and RF interference during the sensitive periods of takeoff and landing. For a long time (maybe even still?), pacemakers and microwave ovens didn't mix. Stray RF interference from microwave ovens was known to cause pacemakers to malfunction. More recently, certain types of Wi-Fi devices and certain types of cordless phone wouldn't work in close proximity to each other.

      None of this has anything to do with 9/11.

      January 17, 2012 at 8:42 am | Report abuse |
  14. T5309

    He needs to grow up. It's a rule, not a personal attack.

    December 8, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Report abuse |
  15. JimBob

    Ah the Hollywood crowd...always a breath of fresh air (hack, hack) and always carrying themselves through life amongst us mere mortals with class and civility.
    What a bunch of baloney.

    December 8, 2011 at 7:55 pm | Report abuse |
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