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American Airlines slams 'rude' actor in plane row
by Staff Writers
Los Angeles (AFP) Dec 7, 2011

American Airlines slammed Alec Baldwin as "extremely rude" Wednesday after the US actor took to his Twitter account to complain about having been thrown off a flight.

But the "30 Rock" star immediately blasted back, accusing a flight attendant of behaving in an "inappropriate" manner and singling him out from other passengers.

Baldwin was ordered off the flight Tuesday after refusing to turn off his cellphone as the plane was preparing to leave Los Angeles airport, and said afterwards he would never use American again.

In a series of tweets -- which were later unavailable as Baldwin had deactivated his Twitter account -- he said he was playing a popular smartphone game when he was told to leave the plane.

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

But in a statement Wednesday, American Airlines retorted, saying Baldwin had ignored a request to turn off his phone -- and stormed off to the lavatory, slamming the door shut and alarming the pilots.

"Since an extremely vocal customer has publicly identified himself as being removed from an American Airlines flight... we have elected to provide the actual facts of the matter," it said.

Recalling the rule that cellphones and electronic devices must be turned off when the plane doors are closed and seatbelt lights on, American continued: "This passenger declined to turn off his cell phone when asked to do so.

"The passenger ultimately stood up (with the seatbelt 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.

"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."

Baldwin's spokesman Matthew Hiltzik said the star had been unfairly singled out.

"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," he said after the initial incident.

In a new reaction after the AA statement he claimed that the plane was already delayed half an hour at the gate, and Baldwin was simply whiling away the time playing on his cellphone.

"Alec was clearly singled out by a flight attendant who behaved in an inappropriate manner," he said in an email to AFP.

"Other passengers who tweeted flagrantly violated these rules without any repercussions, proving that they were obviously selectively enforced," he said, accusing the airline of changing their story.

"The more flack AA is getting for this incident, the more their story keeps changing.

Baldwin's Twitter account meanwhile remained inaccessible, saying simply, "Deactivated."

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Hundreds of flights cancelled due to Beijing smog
Beijing (AFP) Dec 5, 2011
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