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In-flight electronics 'number one cause of disputes on planes'

Melbourne, Fri, 09 Mar 2012 ANI

Melbourne, Mar 9 (ANI): Electronic devices are now the number one cause of on-board disputes as many passengers refuse to turn them off, according to flight attendants.


Three months after 30 Rock star Alec Baldwin was thrown off an American Airlines flight for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends on his mobile phone, flight attendants told The Wall Street Journal that Baldwin's behaviour was not uncommon and had become a major cause of disputes between cabin staff and passengers - though airlines don't keep data on how many people are removed from flights for that reason.


"People have become so wedded to these devices, and a lot of people really question whether they need to turn them off," the Herald Sun quoted Southwest Airlines flight attendant Thom McDaniel as saying.


"Travellers who think 'it's no big deal' or 'the rule doesn't apply to me' - those are the hardest. Most passenger misconduct cases now deal with non compliance with electronic devices," said Kelly Skyles, an American Airlines flight attendant.


Airline rules backed by federal laws allow crews to turn a plane back to the gate and toss passengers off flights to prevent disputes in the air.


In most cases, it isn't the initial issue that gets people kicked off planes but the argument that follows.


Flight attendants at American Airlines reported 1306 incidents of customer misconduct to their union in 2011, up slightly from 1248 in 2010. Most didn't escalate into confrontations or get reported to law enforcement.


The numbers of such incidents have been going up for three years, with most of the increase related to electronic devices, flight attendants say, adding that one or two people on almost every flight don't seem to think the device ban applies to them.


"There's a lack of awareness of what the rules are, why the rules are there and what the flight attendant's role is," said Veda Shook, an Alaska Airlines flight attendant and president of the Association of Flight Attendants. (ANI)


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