American Airlines releases statement on Alec Baldwin's accusations

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 18: Alec Baldwin speaks during Tony Bennett's 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 18, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images)
Larry Busacca
Larry Busacca/Getty Images

(CBS) - American Airlines came out with a statement this morning via their Facebook page, regarding the accusations that actor Alec Baldwin was kicked off a flight Tuesday after he refused to turn off his cell phone at Los Angeles International Airport.

Baldwin was playing the popular Scrabble-like game "Words with Friends" while waiting for the plane to take off. When he refused to turn off his phone, American Airlines left him at the gate.

The airline released this rebuttal of the actor's claims this morning.

"Since an extremely vocal customer has publicly identified himself as being removed from an American Airlines flight on Tuesday, Dec. 6, we have elected to provide the actual facts of the matter as well as the FAA regulations which American, and all airlines, must enforce. Cell phones and electronic devices are allowed to be used while the aircraft is at the gate and the door is open for boarding. When the door is closed for departure and the seat belt light is turned on, all cell phones and electronic devices must be turned off for taxi-out and take-off. 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. 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."

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

Tweets from Grant Cardone and Michael J. Wolf tipped off the "Twitterverserse" and the story began spreading immediately.

"Alec Baldwin is getting kicked off of AA flight as I tweet this!" tweeted Cardone at 1:13 p.m. PST.

"On an AA flight at LAX. Alec Baldwin removed from the plane. We had to go back to the gate. Terrible that everyone had to wait," Wolf tweeted moments later.

Baldwin's spokesman, Matthew Hiltzik, said the "30 Rock" actor was playing "Words with Friends" while the plane idled at the gate. "He loves 'Words with Friends' so much that he was willing to leave a plane for it," said Hiltzik.

Other passengers say he was actually talking on the phone, not just playing a game, reports CBS News correspondent Betty Nguyen. A crew member told the NY Post he was removed because he became "violent, aggressive" toward the staff.

Baldwin continued to taunt the airline by using the hashtag #theresalwaysunited. "United Airlines should buy Words With Friends," he tweeted.

American Airlines refused to make an official comment on the story, citing customer privacy, but they did tweet back at Baldwin.

"@AlecBaldwin Mr. Baldwin, we are looking into this. Please DM us contact information," the airline tweeted.

Eventually, the actor got onto another American Airlines flight to New York City with no other incident. We hope Zynga sends him a nice gift basket for all the free publicity.