As the East Coast prepared to shut down ahead of a historic snowstorm that would bring impassible roads, flooding and multiple deaths from snow-shoveling, actress Andie MacDowell — perhaps best known for her turns in Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), Groundhog Day (1993) and Four Weddings and a Funeral (1994) — was about to be bumped from first class to what, in a desperate tweet, she called “tourist” class. Because of her dog.
“HELP,” she tweeted angrily at American Airlines. “I paid for first class & they put me in tourist because of my dog that I pre-booked & paid for.”
MacDowell and a dog apparently named Ava — who appeared to be a Chihuahua or Chihuahua mix the actress recently adopted who favors American flag sweaters — flew with the hoi polloi. And that appeared to be that.
But then, Twitter struck. This wasn’t just a First World problem or a white person problem, it seemed. It was an Andie MacDowell problem —and she was quickly taken to task. Some targeted the poetic, but not widely used synonym she offered for “coach.”
“‘Tourist Class’ is the most wonderfully snobby thing I’ve ever heard,” a critic wrote.
Others, responding to the spectacle of successful film star and L’Oreal spokesman bemoaning her dismissal from first class over a dog, deployed arid sarcasm.
“Just hope this doesn’t happen to her over & over every day,” wrote another.
And some got personal — taking aim at MacDowell’s film career. After all, she is not known for her consistency, nor for her Oscar gold. One tough assessment likened her to the man behind Neo of The Matrix and Johnny Utah of Point Break.
One person tweeted, “Andie MacDowell is a bad actress who occasionally gives a surprisingly good performance. She is the female Keanu Reeves.”
But MacDowell had defenders. This was America — and, for that matter, American Airlines. Shouldn’t one get what one pays for, even though some less fortunate are going without somewhere else?
“What’s your beef with Andie McDowell [sic]?” one wrote. “She paid for something she didn’t get & like you or I, she is entitled to a refund.” Another: “Everyone should leave AndieMcDowell alone AmericanAir should be embarrassed 4 their usual crap service. Haters should hate on real issues.”
Among MacDowell’s allies appeared to be noted memoirist Anne Lamott. And her dog, Bodhi Lamott — breed not immediately available at press time: “Here is Bodhi Lamott working on a note to @AndieMacDowell3, sending love and airplane-angst solidarity. We get it.”
Lamott, or at least her work — which explores themes of faith and addiction — had brought MacDowell solace before.
“I’ve read all your books,” MacDowell tweeted to Lamott in 2014. “I joke that i may move to go to your church, if I’m blue I read your tweets in hopes of a good laugh.”
Bolstered so by her supporters, MacDowell pointed out that expressing one’s dissatisfaction with a service one paid for does not amount to class warfare. Especially since, as she noted, she had traveled to volunteer for an organization that promotes literacy.
“I’m very happy flying in coach I’m happy on a bus or the subway but if I play for first class, that’s where I want to be, that was the point,” MacDowell tweeted. And: “Lessons learned never, complain on Twitter & don’t pay for first class on American Airlines, only express gratitude . . . can we move on now?”
As Twitter’s churnings over “tourist class” quieted, MacDowell returned to her favored Twitter mode: offering simple, sometimes one-word expressions of peace to the universe such as “kindness” or “give”:
“Isn’t there anything interesting happening on Twitter today that can attract people in a more positive direction”