Hayes Cunningham, a media relations executive with the airline, said: "Sure, there are potential safety issues that necessitate powering down electronic devices prior to take-off. But what caused the flight crew to worry about the welfare of the passengers was Mr. Baldwin's refusal to stop playing Words with Friends."
Cunningham explained that TSA administrators have been growing increasingly concerned about the risks inherent with Words with Friends, a popular application that offers game play similar to Scrabble across a globally networked group of participants.
Administrator John Pistole said: "We're aggressively working with Congress to include screening the individual applications on smart devices into our process, where reasonable suspicions arise. Words with Friends is obviously a primary target. So take the case of Mr. Baldwin. The U.S. government doesn't know who his friends are or what words he's sharing with them. Are these friends in the Middle East? Are they anti-American? Do they hate freedom? Would they welcome the destruction of Israel? It's very dangerous. Alec Baldwin, or others like him, could be sending terrorists take-down orders within seconds through coded messages on Words with Friends or Twitter hashtags."
Flight attendants with American later admitted to glancing at Baldwin's game. Although they could not definitively list all the words he was playing, they felt some of the letters on the board could have been deployed to create words such as "jihad," "bomb," "hijack" or "Islam."
One crew member confessed: "I know I saw the word 'box' in there. I also saw the word 'cutter' somewhere else. The terrorists used box-cutters to take over flights during the attacks of 2001. For me, it was clear Alec Baldwin was not playing an innocent game with his buddies."
Cunningham refused to discuss these observations in detail, but cited additional concerns over general hygiene: "Even if Mr. Baldwin's round of Words with Friends was innocuous, we clearly had a situation where a celebrity disobeyed orders from the flight crew and fled to the lavatory. The last time a celebrity did that -- Gerard Depardieu -- he ended up peeing all over the aisles of Business Class. He was French, so it took nearly a week to clean the urine off the seats. Since then, the TSA has made it abundantly clear that actors attempting to use the restrooms prior to take-off, after the doors have been sealed, are immediate threats to health and must be ejected from the planes. Safety is our first priority, not pandering to entitled celebrities."
(c) 2011. See disclaimers.