Friday, May 26, 2006

Allow yourself three hours before your flight

Memorial Day weekend is always one of the big air travel cluster fucks of the year. But the good news is it has inspired a great idea for a romantic comedy screenplay.

You know the old third act convention -- GIRL goes off to the airport to fly away for good, to marry Ralph Bellamy and ruin her life. GUY realizes he loves GIRL and rushes to the airport. Start the clock! He’s driving like a madman. She’s leisurely strolling to her gate. In the time it takes her to walk twenty yards he drives twenty miles but that’s okay, he’s on “Jack Bauer” time. He parks right in front of the terminal. Races in. She’s at the ticket counter with two people in front of her. He’s leaping over people like OJ. Just as she’s about to enter the jetway he arrives. They embrace, declare their undying love. The end.

My movie would start with GUY realizing he loves GIRL and heading off to the airport. She’s looking at the TV monitors trying to figure out which of the many concourses her gate is at.

He is stuck in terrible traffic.

She is wondering where the fuck is K-26 and how come the direction arrows say concourses A,C,G are one way, B,K, H, D another, E still a third and why there’s no F?

He’s now approaching the airport. There’s construction blocking two lanes. This is the weekend they’ve decided to repave the main thoroughfare. And just for fun, they’re backing in a cement mixer so all traffic is held.

GIRL’S flight has been delayed. It says only 15 minutes but how can that be when the plane isn’t even there yet? Could the major airline be lying???

GUY’S car is inspected after waiting at a checkpoint. The Hummer before him with a gun rack got waved right through. He’s asked to open his Kia trunk.

GIRL realizes if she wants to eat anything on the long fight she needs to buy it. So she gets in long line at the CHILI’S TOO take out stand.

He can’t leave his car unoccupied at the terminal. Only people allowed to get really close to the terminal in these terrorist prevention times are cab drivers, none of whom have first names shorter than 38 letters. GUY has to find a space in one of the parking structures. There are none.

The woman in line ahead of GIRL is asking questions about the chicken pesto wrap? Is it white meat? When was it made? The girl at the counter doesn’t speak English.

GUY parks in a handi-cap zone. Fuck it. He races for the terminal. The parking structure elevator is out of order.

GIRL begins her two mile trek to her gate.

GUY can’t get past security unless he has a ticket. He races to the ticket counter.

Oops. Gates K20-26 are in a different concourse than gates K1-25.

To avoid the long line, GUY goes to First Class desk. There are still three people ahead of him. No biggie except there is only one agent serving First Class passengers. The other line moves faster.

GIRL wanders through the maze of concourses.

GUY reaches the ticket agent. Is given flack for being in the first class line. He’ll buy a first class ticket for GIRL’S flight. Sorry. Sold out. There are no more seats on any flight to her destination. He’ll buy a ticket for ANY flight going anywhere. There’s room on the Tokyo red eye. He’ll take it. First Class only. Shit! He waits as she gets approval for his card. It’s denied. He gives her another card.

GIRL reaches her gate. Flight still delayed. Why? One rep says bad weather. Another says equipment problems. Could the major airline be lying???

Now that GUY has spent his grandmother’s inheritance on a flight he doesn’t intend to take he races to security. Another long line. People are practically stripping down to their underwear.

GIRL’S flight finally arrives. They have trouble getting the jetway to the plane. It’ll only be another few minutes. Scheduled time for her flight was ten minutes ago although the airline maintains that time still stands.

Because he’s flying one-way he’s singled out for extensive examination. He has no luggage, which is mighty suspicious. He could be hiding something. What, he wonders, if he has nothing to hide it in?

GIRL stands in long line at ticket counter.

GUY’S car is towed.

GUY is asked a series of questions. The thought here is that terrorists who would think nothing of blowing up a jumbo jet with 200 people aboard would not tell a fib to a TSA agent.

GIRL reaches the ticket agent and learns her seat is double-booked. This is the new airline policy. They fear that businessmen who book reservations cancel thereby leaving empty seats. So the policy is to double book. The solution is not just put people on stand-by for the few vacant seats. No, it’s to inconvenience those people who did dutifully make their reservations and give the airline their money way ahead of time.

Now GUY is trying to figure out where Gate K-26 is.

GIRL and the other passenger assigned to her seat play game of chicken over who will agree to take a later flight. They’re offered a voucher for a free trip anywhere in the US. GIRL knows that there are only a certain number of seats allotted for these vouchers and they’re always full. So the voucher is essentially worthless.

GUY races to her gate.

GIRL is about to step into the jetway.

GUY reaches her gate. He calls to her. She spots him. Tears in her eyes, she almost swoons when she sees him. An alert siren sounds. The terminal is being evacuated. Bomb scare. Mass confusion as everyone tries to leave. Closing music swells as they embrace and are trampled. The end.

Hopefully it’s not too sentimental. But I’m sure Nora Ephron will find just the right balance. Watch for my movie coming to a theatre near you…or maybe as part of some major airline’s in flight entertainment.

ANTICIPATED LOGIC PROBLEMS: Why don't they have cellphones and just call each other or why doesn't GUY follow her later? GUY ran out of the house so fast he forgot his cellphone. Ralph Bellamy had justice of the peace waiting with him at GIRL'S destination to perform the ceremony at the baggage carousel. All these and any logic problems will be deftly explained in the script by one of the many writers the studio gets to rewrite me...and then each other.

Happy Memorial Day weekend. Fly carefully.

7 comments:

Sebastian said...

No, seriously - Can I use it?

Alex Epstein said...

Because Guy couldn't just CALL Girl on her CELL PHONE. THAT would be too EASY.

Or he could just hook up with her in Paris.

Boy, I'm old, aren't I?

Ken Levine said...

GUY ran out of the house so fast he forgot his cellphone. Ralph Bellamy had justice of the peace waiting with him at GIRL'S destination to perform the ceremony at the baggage carousel. All these and any logic problems will be deftly explained in the script by one of the many writers the studio gets to rewrite me...and then each other.

David J. Loehr said...

Well goodness, you could have a running joke where he keeps trying his cellphone, but--

-- his battery is running low, he didn't charge it, didn't think he'd be trapped in a farce the next day.

-- she's always trying to call someone else on her cell phone, whether airline info or a friend, etc. Or she gets a call from her mother who won't get off the phone, thus running down her battery.

-- he's using an inferior cell carrier, so there's no coverage in the airport once he gets there, leading to a second running joke where he's taunted by continuous ads for the "good" cell service; when he finally snaps and breaks one of the airport displays, he can be detained by security and thus be even more suspicious later. "Can you hear me now?" "NOOOOO!"

And if the lead is Kiefer Sutherland, there's an in-joke (aside from the time pressure) about how bad the cell service is, it's not like on tv, but it's not like it's the end of the world...

Emily Blake said...

That was funny. I'd see that movie.

But don't forget about the tour group of forty teenage girls who have 800 lbs of carry-on luggage they slowly load onto the security conveyor as they giggle and flirt with the boys in the tour group, who are themselves trying to look macho by having mock fights with their buddies, which then arouse the ire of the security personnel who have been looking all day for an excuse to take down some bitches SWAT style while GUY stands in line with his shoes in his hand.

Pianista en un Burdel said...

It's the funniest documentary ever!

VP19 said...

Ken Levine said...
GUY ran out of the house so fast he forgot his cellphone. Ralph Bellamy had justice of the peace waiting with him at GIRL'S destination to perform the ceremony at the baggage carousel.


You mean in the end, Ralph Bellamy gets the girl? That only happened when he played Franklin Delano Roosevelt. And even then...