Filmmaker Kevin Smith had a hard time with Southwest Airlines a while back, where he was hassled by flight crew over his weight in economy class.
Now Smith is a “first-class fiend” in his words, but he had an unfortunate incident with Virgin Airlines, and he’s fighting back once again via the Internet and an open letter titled: “Virgin shuts its legs, I shut my wallet.”
Posted on Monday, December 6, Smith’s blog post outlines his travels with his wife and actor Jason Mewes, a frequent creative collaborator of Smith’s in film.
Smith details their arrival and check in, and reveals that the airline employees refused to let them board despite the fact the concierge had been hosting them because they had arrived so early and checked their bags.
The plane sat on the tarmac attached to the gangway while two Virgin employees stonewalled Smith, his wife and Mewes, causing them distress, especially over the fact the plane had their luggage and his wife’s needed medicine.
Customer Service in this age of Twitter and Facebook is fast.
@ThatKevinSmith Very sorry to hear your had a bad experience. We will be contacting you today to follow up.
1 minute ago
From Kevin’s blog:
Dear Virgin America,
I’m gonna do this carefully because I’ve already got some… history, shall we say… with another airline.
My wife Jennifer, my friend Jason Mewes and I were booked on VX 409, JFK to LAX today, December 6th, 11:45am…we arrived at the airport over an hour ahead of BOARDING time…With over an hour to kill in the very-empty-in-the-early-hours Terminal 4, we settled in a pre-boarding lounge until it was time to head to the gate. To further insure that we wouldn’t hinder the boarding process, we even took advantage of a concierge service – an airport liaison whose job it is to get travelers on their planes on time. Dorothy, the liaison, kept us informed as to when we could go to the gate…
We went through TSA with no issues, collected our things, and headed to gate B25. Boarding started at 11:15, and we arrived at the gate at 11:35 – a full ten minutes before scheduled departure. But as we reached the gate, we saw a man closing the door. Since we were a good 50 feet or more from the actual door, Mewes called out to the man, letting him know there were three more. The man looked at us and continued closing the door. We told him we were on the flight and he told us it was too late; the flight was closed. It was 11:36. We told him we had first class tickets. The lone attendant said that didn’t matter. It was still over five minutes ’til the scheduled departure.
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….
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?
…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 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 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.
…at that point, I knew I’d never spend another dime on anything Virgin-related ever again (which sucks, as I’m a huge fan of your trains in England and your cross-Atlantic flight). It’s not that your airline sucks: you guys are actually a top-notch operation, about whom I literally said to my wife a mere five days ago while we were en route to the east cost “Virgin does it right, man. Such a great airline…”
You are a great airline – but the wife and I will be avoiding you like the plague from now on. As will Mewes – who must’ve smoked an entire pack of cigarettes outside afterwards to calm down. As will anyone in my immediate and extended family. As will any of the cast/crew I’ve gotta fly around the country (or out of it) for productions.
…It all starts at that check-in desk; and what started there today was the end of our business relationship.
And you WANT me as a customer, man: I’m a first class fiend and I travel TONS. But this shit may have even put me off Virgin Atlantic, too.
A one-time booster who feels f*cked over,
Loudmouth of the Skies”