My internist Bruce Yaffe, MD is good friends with Alec Baldwin. He insists that the Words With Friends fiasco aboard American Airlines was not a PR stunt. I didn’t want to debate that point because I was naked on the examination table. The only thing between me and him was my paper gown. I was feeling very vulnerable. I didn’t want him to see my extra pounds. I agreed with him immediately.
But I know better. My cousin Harvey Oshinsky bumped into Alec in the Murray Hill section of Manhattan soon after AA threw him off a flight because he wouldn’t turn off his cell while playing Words with Friends. Alec told Harvey the incident was for real. I argued the point with Harvey for an hour. He was relentless. It runs in my family. The day after Alec made headlines, hundreds of thousands of people downloaded the word game. Hmm?
Meanwhile the controversy over whether we should be allowed to use our cell phones and/or other electronics when the doors close on an airplane continues. The New York Times just reported a study released by two industry groups, the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association that takes a look at the whole situation. Thirty percent of all passengers said they had accidentally left a device on during takeoff or landing. When asked if they turn their devices to “off,” 59 percent of passengers said they do fully turn their electronics off and 21 percent said they just rely on airplane mode.
The Federal Aviation Administration recently said it would begin a review of its policies on electronic devices in all phases of flight. The study also found that four out of ten passengers would like to use their devices during all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing.
To date, there has been no proof that electronic devices interfere with the operation of an aircraft.
Maybe Alec wasn’t working with Words with Friends after all. Rather he was paid by a group of deep-pocketed businessmen who want to see the rules changed. Ever since Alec was almost arrested, the subject has certainly been a topic of discussion.