So the story raging across Twitter, and then through MSM, is that actor Alec Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight today. The reports indicate that Baldwin didn’t comply with standard commercial aircraft procedure to shut off electronic devices; his publicist said Baldwin was just too engrossed playing Words With Friends to power down whatever device he had. (Funny how some stories just thread right into others… but this blog digresses…)
Right now, American Airlines’ public relations is badly misstepping on several fronts:
• Bad newsroom. The story is surging across the news, yet amazingly, American Airlines has nothing posted on their official newsroom in response. Even if American is still investigating exactly what happened before issuing comment, at a minimum the online newsroom should have a PR holding statement to this effect.
• Bad tweets. By openly and harshly insulting American Airlines staff, Baldwin likely lost significant sympathy across Twitter. Still, American’s own tweets appear to kowtow to Baldwin’s childish rant. Instead of going to the substance of the matter, the airline should wait until it’s collected all the facts before addressing the incident publicly (see the above point).
• Bad precedent. It’s not like similar incidents haven’t happened before. Southwest Airlines certainly has seen its share, most notably with ejecting an actress for an aggressive public display of affection. And today… Southwest is rolling (flying?) right along with their incidents squarely behind them.
Keep an eye on this one, as the story will definitely play out over the next few days. If American Airlines wises up and follows Southwest’s playbook, though, the story shouldn’t go past a few more days, most likely ending in its favor.