We're not sure what is more noteworthy — that Keanu Reeves flies commercial, that a passenger jet was forced to make an emergency landing Saturday at Meadows Field with him aboard, or that the "John Wick" actor knows enough about the Bakersfield Sound to entertain his fellow stranded travelers with a few twangy songs from Youtube.
But all of those things are true.
Reeves, 54, was aboard a United/SkyWest flight from San Francisco to Burbank that made an emergency landing Saturday afternoon in Bakersfield due to "mechanical indication," according to Time.com and other sources. The CRJ-200 aircraft landed without incident and taxied to the gate at 2:23 p.m. It was full — 53 crew and passengers.
Several passengers shot video of the bearded, ball cap-wearing film star, who stepped up to help with travel arrangements and then took a van with other passengers to their final destination in Los Angeles because it was quicker to drive than fly.
A-One Taxi, headquartered at the William M. Thomas Terminal, deployed several vans to take all of the passengers home, so only a handful of them were able to rideshare with Reeves, according to Kern County Airports Director Mark Witsoe. The Grapevine was experiencing serious traffic delays at the time, so the caravan went by way of Tehachapi, according to Witsoe.
"So even after they landed they had issues," Witsoe said.
Along the way, Reeves dryly read fun facts about Bakersfield from his phone to his fellow passengers, according to Yahoo News. “Its population is around 380,000," he informed them at one point, "making it the ninth most populous city in California and the 52nd most populous city in the nation." Then he played some tunes from the Bakersfield Sound, the city's trademark brand of country music of the 1950s-'70s, on his mobile phone.
Airport officials had summoned the owner of the terminal's Blimpies franchise, which had closed for the day — and it's the only available, non-automated food service at the local airport — but Reeves declined to eat there, opting instead for a banana and some Gatorade.
The United jet, SkyWest Flight 5223, is still parked at Meadows Field, apparently still completing unspecified repairs, Witsoe said.
Emergency landings at the main Kern County airport north of Bakersfield are rare. The airports director said flights aren't diverted to Meadows Feld "very often," perhaps once a quarter, either for weather or mechanical issues.
Several passengers posted photos and video on social media of the whole thing.
Amir Blum, the co-creator of the game studio Unboxed Experience, wrote: “That time when your flight out from (a game developers' conference in San Francisco) almost crashes and you have to emergency land in a remote airport but at least Keanu Reeves is having as bad a day as you are."
No word on whether Meadows Field intends to try to trademark "Remote Airport."
Witsoe, who wasn't aware that the story had made national news, said he was much more excited about American Airlines' new nonstop Bakersfield to Dallas-Fort Worth jet. "Dallas is a very connected hub," he said. "You can get to almost 250 cities from there."
Reeves, meanwhile, is set to star in "John Wick 3: Parabellum" with Halle Berry, hitting theaters May 17, and a third "Bill & Ted" adventure, 28 years after the release of the second installment. It's targeted for summer 2020.