Alec Baldwin Flap: A Veteran Airline Pilot Responds

Last week, Alec Baldwin was thrown off a plane for allegedly bad behavior when he was prevented from playing a game on his phone as his American Airlines flight awaited take-off at Los Angeles International.

American Airlines: Baldwin was ‘rude to the crew’ and ‘used offensive language’

Baldwin – and others – have since questioned the need for rules requiring electronic devices be turned off despite the fact that the FAA says “signals may unintentionally affect aircraft communications.”

Pilot: Devices Can Cause ‘Bleed-Over’ on Radios

A veteran pilot with a well-known U.S. legacy carrier who declined to be named since he is not authorized to speak publicly, told us that some devices can interfere with airplane communications.

Said the pilot, “[I have] occasionally have heard ‘bleed-over’ from some devices on the communication radios. It does happen and it is a nuisance.”

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Pilot: Flying is a ‘Frustrating Experience’ Today

“I know flying can be stressful and is ultimately an act of trusting a system that you have no control over,” the anonymous pilot continued, adding that it’s a frustrating experience for the famous – like Alec Baldwin – and unknown passengers alike. “Without batting an eye, [the co-pilot and I] just kicked a person off a flight the other day up because he wanted to debate the carry-on luggage policies of our airline. We accommodated him on another flight but nonetheless he was removed from the flight so it could leave on time.”

Are flight attendants ever over-zealous? Said the pilot, “Some flight attendants do prosecute their duties with ‘extreme prejudice'; even I have been told to power down a couple of times when I have deadheaded on a flight!”

The pilot had this final observation: “My best advice is try to go with the flow as painful as it may seem, because if the situation gets elevated it will ultimately end up like Mr. Baldwin’s outcome, a missed flight and a headache that could have been prevented if you just turned your device off.”

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Published: December 14, 2011