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Alec Baldwin's love for iPhone game won't fly

The "30 Rock" actor is reportedly so engrossed in "Words With Friends" that he ends up in something of a disagreement with an American Airlines cabin crew.

I was on an American Airlines flight the other day, when the self-righteous man next to me was refusing to turn off his iPhone.

"NOW!" bellowed the flight crew lady, as if she were talking to a recalcitrant child or a loser lover.

I wonder if something similar might have happened to actor Alec Baldwin yesterday, when he was removed from an American Airlines flight after being somewhat slow to turn off his iPhone, on which he was playing Zynga's Words With Friends.

The way ABC News reports it, Baldwin might have gotten a little annoyed. Or he might not have.

Baldwin himself tweeted: "Flight attendant on American reamed me out 4 playing WORDS W FRIENDS while we sat at the gate, not moving. #nowonderamericaairisbankrupt."

I fear that one reason American Airlines is going through a Chapter 11 restructuring is merely because it's about as good as most other American airlines.

Sometimes, though, when you're not moving, you're still supposed to have your cell phone switched off--principally because you're about to move. Not that I believe cell phones make any difference to flying whatsoever, but still.

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Shortly after this tweet, Baldwin offered: "#theresalwaysunited Last flight w American. Where retired Catholic school gym teachers from the 1950's find jobs as flight attendants."

There appeared to have been some psychological reaction with the flight attendant's demeanor that, perhaps, took Baldwin back to a troubled moment in childhood.

His spokesman told ABC News, though, that it was love for his iPhone game that was the real problem: "Alec was asked to leave the flight for playing Words with Friends while parked at the gate. He loves WWF so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it, but he has already boarded another AA flight."

American seems to have contacted Baldwin via Twitter, and I am sure that each party will get its own publicity value out of the experience.

However, airlines really do need to find a way to act against gratuitous civil disobedience without forcing its tired and harassed flight attendants to lose their composure.

Perhaps the flight attendants should merely sit down in the aisles and "occupy" the planes until all cell phones are switched off and put away. Sometimes, silence is surely the finest form of protest.

Update, 2:24 p.m. PT: American Airlines issued a statement on its Facebook page, declaring that Baldwin, aka "the passenger," behaved very badly. (No!)

The airline said: "This passenger declined to turn off his cell phone when asked to do so at the appropriate time. The passenger ultimately stood up (with the seat belt light still on for departure) and took his phone into the plane's lavatory. 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."

But this wasn't all. According to American Airlines, "The passenger was extremely rude to the crew, calling them inappropriate names and using offensive language. Given the facts above, the passenger was removed from the flight and denied boarding."

Many will not be stunned to read these words. Some, though, might ask, "So why was he allowed to fly on another American Airlines flight?"

Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET
Screenshot: Chris Matyszczyk/CNET