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Alec Baldwin (MARK BLINCH/Mark Blinch/Reuters)
Alec Baldwin (MARK BLINCH/Mark Blinch/Reuters)

Alec Baldwin kicked off flight, fights back on Twitter Add to ...

The indignities of airline travel in 2011: if it isn't being asked to throw away items containing liquid, it's an elderly woman being asked to remove her pants to get through airport security.

Now, we can add playing an addictive online game to the list?

The Internet is buzzing over news that Alec Baldwin was reportedly removed from an American Airlines flight in Los Angeles Tuesday for playing a game on his smartphone.

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The story first broke when Twitter users on the flight, such as Michael Wolf, former president and chief operating officer of MTV Networks, sent out a tweet saying the plane had to return to the gate to remove Mr. Baldwin, who stars in the sitcom 30 Rock. Mr. Wolf noted it was "terrible that everyone had to wait."

Mr. Baldwin, no stranger to Twitter himself, immediately jumped into the fray, sending out a tweet saying he had been "reamed" out by a flight attendant for playing a game called Words With Friends while the plane was preparing to take off. He then followed up with messages that did everything from insult American Airlines flight attendants to plug its rival, United. Mr. Baldwin took a later flight to New York, but vowed in a follow-up tweet it would be his last with American Airlines.

Before long, Mr. Baldwin became a trending topic on Twitter and Words With Friends was suddenly a household name. The controversy is also hardly good news for American Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy last month.

The actor is getting overwhelming support online from others who seem to agree the airline's behaviour was heavy-handed and unnecessary. Of course, it doesn't take much to ignite public anger against airlines these days, and Mr. Baldwin's case seems to tap into that animosity perfectly. In addition, Mr. Baldwin is using his social media might to damage the American Airlines brand (and boost the fortunes of Words With Friends and its developer, Zynga).

But there are some signs that Mr. Baldwin's account may not be the full story. Some passengers on the plane told media outlets he was on his phone, which is why flight attendants asked him to leave the plane. TMZ also reported that the plane captain himself booted the actor from the plane because he slammed the bathroom door so hard, they could hear it in the cabin.

Whatever the truth is, it doesn't seem likely there will be a groundswell of support for an airline on Twitter anytime soon, particularly when a social media savvy celebrity is slamming them to his followers.

Do you think airlines are too heavy-handed in their treatment of passengers?

Follow on Twitter: @carlyweeks

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