Poor guy! At least this debacle ended a bit better for him.
Director Kevin Smith doesn't seem to have much luck flying on planes. Due to his size, celebrity and his infamous feud with Southwest, special arrangements have to made for him in order to travel. Yesterday, Kevin was slated on a Virgin America flight back stateside with his wife and Jason Mewes, but according to his blog, it wasn't a pleasant trip.
Kevin explains on his blog that in an effort to board the plane discreetly and efficiently, he used a concierge service to handle his travel plans, a recommendation made to him by bestie Ben Affleck. His agent held off having Kevin and his wife board their flight until all the other passengers had already taken their seats. With almost 10 minutes to spare, the couple made their way to the runway, which is where all the trouble for Kevin began. He explains:
We pleaded with Manny (the unfriendly face of Virgin America JFK working the gate), pointing out the remaining time (there were still 8 minutes before scheduled departure), and pointing out that the jetway was still attached to the plane. Flying as much as I do (usually up at the front of the plane), I know that the jetway only gets pulled back ONCE THE PLANE DOOR IS SECURELY CLOSED. As we tried to get Manny to realize our bags were under the plane and we'd been checked in for an hour, the jetway stayed in place. The plane wouldn't pull back from the gate for another 15 minutes (if you want, I can show you the picture we took of the jetway still attached, with Mewes' phone displaying the time in the foreground; yes, I took that picture; sadly, that's the world we live in now)…
Manny was joined by Erwin, who identified himself as the person in charge. I pointed out - EXTREMELY calmly - that we’d checked in an hour prior and that our bags were on the plane. He said it didn’t matter, as we weren’t at the gate when they shut the door. We told him we were with sight of the gate and that Manny could’ve held the door – particularly because departure wasn’t for another nearly ten minutes at that point. He said he’d called for us over the p.a. system, but my wife’s name is SCHWALBACH - you say a name THAT distinctive over a loudspeaker, at least two people in an airport are gonna turn their heads: me & Jen Schwalbach. And, the fact that we were going through security mere yards from the actual gate, and we’d heard the last call announcement for the previous San Francisco flight… well, without calling anybody a liar, it’s just REALLY hard to believe that p.a. call was actually made. I didn’t hear my name over the loudspeaker. Jennifer Schwalbach didn’t hear her name. Jason Mewes didn’t hear his name. Dorothy, the concierge service lady, didn’t hear any of our names. Four independent sets of ears, mere yards from the origin point of the alleged p.a. call failed to hear the call; what are the chances we’re all stone cold deaf?
But like I said: I’ve been through it with an airline before. I knew this was a losing battle-for-reason; I’ve dealt with petty, per-hour tyrants who abuse their authority and assume nobody further up the corporate ladder is ever gonna hear about how they represented their employers in the worst possible light. Sometimes, y’all put folks up front who give your company a bad name. Keeping me off my flight even though I was checked in an hour prior and my baggage was already on board isn’t even the big slap in the face though; that came next.
I told them, in a VERY polite manner, that I didn’t care about making the plane (even though it meant we’d be missing our kid’s first basketball game at school – a fact I didn’t share with them because if Manny and Erwin couldn’t give a fuck about me, their customer, what chance did Harley have of finding any compassion); all I cared about was my wife’s luggage…
Which was under the plane…
And contained her medication.
She needed to take it eight hours from her last dosage. Rather than put it in her carry-on, she put it in her bag that went under the plane. Since we were gonna be home in six hours, what did it matter? But now? In a world where the next flight wouldn’t get us to our bags/her medication for NINE hours, naturally, I was concerned with getting our bags off the plane.
But Erwin said that wasn’t possible. So did Manny. They didn’t even TRY to call someone about getting the bags off. “They can’t do that,” was all I got. Dorothy, the concierge, said in her 27 years working with all the airlines, she’d never seen anything like it.
And still, the plane sat right there at the, jetway still attached. Our bags could’ve EASILY been removed in the time that the jet remained parked at the gate (or we could’ve been permitted to board). And even though I CALMLY explained three times that my wife would need her medication based on the delay they were creating, neither Manny nor Erwin would do anything to help about the bags - or getting us on a plane we were booked on/had tickets for/were in the terminal an hour ahead of schedule to take.
That just…sucks. There are no other words for it. Sounds like he did everything right and as politely as possible, but that these people were extraordinarily uncooperative and unyielding.
The good news is that when the higher ups of Virgin America got wind of this, they immediately contacted Kevin and offered their apologies, along with a full refund and a free flight.
We're sure it doesn't make up for the extreme inconvenience they all had to endure, but it sure is a hell of a lot more than he got from Southwest!
[Image via WENN.]