In my personal opinion, Alec Baldwin is a narcissistic blow hard.
There…I said it! And I make no apologies about that opinion.
I have been a casual fan of Baldwin’s work for years. I have enjoyed some of the things he’s done; others, not so much. In the grand scheme of things, I (and I believe all of us) need to remember one important distinction: he’s an actor! He’s not a rocket scientist, nor an important political leader, nor a distinguished medical expert. In the grand scheme of things, he hasn’t done anything that I would consider to be of great value to the sustenance or betterment of the human race.
I am a flight attendant. I have no delusions of grandeur when it comes to my place in society, nor my importance to the public. I do know my place and I understand the responsibilities that my job requires of me. First and foremost, I am a safety professional on board an aircraft. My authority as such stands directly beneath the Captain’s authority aboard the aircraft I am flying on. Since the Captain cannot attend to the activities behind him and the cockpit door, the onus of keeping order and peace falls upon the shoulders of the flight attendants.
In this day and age, the public has become more and more callous towards the flight attendant profession. While the majority of our time is spent smiling, assisting and serving beverages and meals, in the public’s mind, flight attendants are nothing more than the stewardesses they see on the ABC series ‘Pan Am,’ or the ditzy bimbos portrayed in movies like “A View from the Top.” They understand less and less about our primary function – to protect the safety of the plane and the passengers aboard it. During emergencies, it is the flight attendants who coordinate, organize and take charge of evacuations, medical emergencies and other disruptions. Our job is to maintain order. Chaos on board a flight is unacceptable and rarely tolerated.
When things get out of hand at 35,000 feet, because the cockpit door must remain closed and secure in-flight, the highest level of authority (with direction from the Captain) comes from the flight attendants. So physical and verbal abuse is taken at face value and dealt with severely on the ground when the airplane arrives at the airport. Any passenger who cannot control their actions aboard a flight faces real, severe penalties in the form of charges of interfering with a flight crew or a flight attendant, as set forth in Title 49 of the United States Code: “The statute applies to any “individual on an aircraft in the special aircraft jurisdiction of the United States who, by assaulting or intimidating a flight crew member or flight attendant of the aircraft, interferes with the performance of the duties of the member or attendant or lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform those duties.” The statute provides for up to 20 years imprisonment, and further provides for imprisonment for any term of years or life if a dangerous weapon is used. Interference with a flight crew member or attendant is a general intent crime, and does not require a specific intent either to intimidate the flight crew member or attendant or to interfere with the performance of his or her duties.” 
Although this incident with Baldwin took place while the aircraft was on the ground, at the gate, the statute still applies. In this case, it has been argued publically that the flight attendant overreacted and that the penalty was too severe for the “crime” Baldwin was accused of. I disagree.
Flight attendants, in general, have a gauge by which we determine a passenger’s level of cooperation. If, while at the gate or on the ground, a passenger is unwilling to comply with a request or direct order from a crew member there, chances are pretty strong that they’d be as unwilling to comply at 35,000 feet, when things are more critical, and access to assistance from law enforcement is minimal, at best.
The fact that Baldwin continues to belittle the flight attendant and minimize his infraction on Twitter and on Saturday Night Live, thus stirring up public resentment toward flight attendants in general is unconscionable. Baldwin is no expert authority on air safety rules and regulations.
So why does the public continue to entertain his tirade? Because in today’s world, we have elevated celebrities to a level that somehow equates to leaders or experts or gurus. We look up to them…people who should be respected, admired and their opinions should carry more weight than the average “Joe.” They have become the equivalent of royalty and we treat them as such. We give them a pass on most everything, from drug abuse and infidelity to even more insidious and serious crimes.
This issue is far from over. The more conditioned the public becomes in disrespecting the direction of flight attendants on board aircraft, the less able we flight attendants will be able to maintain order during flight.
I believe it is time for the FAA and the airlines in general, to step up and clarify to the public the necessity to heed the authority of flight crews while flying. I applaud American Airlines’ decision to publicy defend and uphold the crew members who were involved in this case, and to rebuke and reject Baldwin’s behavior. But most of the time, airline companies more often than not become apologetic and simply reward bad behavior by accomodating the offending party with another flight, upgrades or additional mileage in their accounts. I’ve seen it happen. Thus the public gets the notion that if they act up when they don’t get their way, their perception is that they will get rewarded. This sort of compensation for their lack of cooperation must end.
Until then, there will continue to be more and more public incidents of celebrities and non-celebrities alike being removed from flights for disruptive behavior and the media will continue to make a spectacle of it all. It’s not acceptable, and the public should be outraged at the actor, not the safety professional trying to do their job!
 United States Attorney’s Manual, U.S. Code, Title 49, Section 9-63.110, http://1.usa.gov/sP1XMk, revised August 1999.