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SNL's "Canceling a Flight" Sketch Is Basically a Documentary on U.S. Air Travel

While the sketch starring Jake Gyllenhaal picks on one airline, it could really be about any of them in 2024.

By Samantha Vincenty

Air travel is stressful for many reasons: You pay hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars to book a flight that might get delayed or canceled once you've sat down to eat an $18 turkey sandwich you just bought in the airport. Once on board, you'll likely have a pleasant enough flight, so long as there's no turbulence, altercations, or freak door plug accidents. And anyone who's had to change a flight last-minute will relate to Saturday Night Live's May 18 "Canceling a Flight" sketch.

How to Watch

Watch Saturday Night Live Saturdays at 11:30/10:30c on NBC and next day on Peacock.  

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Starring season finale Host Jake Gyllenhaal, "Canceling a Flight" features most of the Season 49 cast, as Gyllenhaal plays a frustrated traveler who gets punted from one customer service rep to another. 

Reginald Kean (Jake Gyllenhaal) sits on a bed while talking on the phone in Saturday Night Live Episode 1864.

Jake Gyllenhaal talks to a rep in SNL's "Canceling a Flight" sketch

"Finally!" Gyllenhaal's character exclaims when he's connected to a rep at the sketch's opening (while the airline named is Southwest, many of its competitors would be an equally-fitting target). 

"This is Zach-cray with Southwest, am I speaking with Vaginald Cream?" a rep (Mikey Day) says in a split-screen.

 "It's Reginald Keane," Gyllenhaal's character replies.

"Of course, Mr. Cream — and let me be the first to apologize for losing your luggage," the rep says, though Keane explains he's actually trying to change a flight.

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"So unfortunately tomorrow we are very full, but i can get you on standby for the 8:15," Day's rep tells him. 

"Standby means I'm not guaranteed to get on the flight though, right?" Keane asks.

"No, you'll be on the flight," the rep says, "You'll just have to stand by the bathroom the whole time."

When Keane asks for a refund, he gets a "no," because as the rep explains something we've long secretly suspected: "We are trained to say no and see if people just accept it. But I see that you won't, so I'll transfer you to someone who can assist." 

Jake Gyllenhaal during his monologue on snl episode 1864

The merry-go-round of reps absolutely do not assist, as Gyllenhaal's character is asked to memorize impossibly long confirmation numbers, a sleazy rep named D'Artagnan, a "still pretty drunk" employee (Heidi Gardner), and a Hudson News cashier (Andrew Dismukes) who offers him "a warm Dasani for $16.99."

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Though Mr. Keane eventually makes it all the way to the top (the spirit of Southwest, played by Bowen Yang), one of the pre-recorded hold messages says it all: "Want more leg room and premium drink services? Fly a different airline."

Watch SNL's "Canceling a Flight" sketch above.