Kontain CEO David Martin Chronicles Virgin America Fiasco

Memo to airlines: With the skyrocketing use of social networks and with Wi-Fi available on your planes, stories about poor customer service are no longer relegated to word-of-mouth. Instead, they are instantly published and documented for all to read.

Nearly one month after filmmaker Kevin Smith’s well-publicized battle with Southwest Airlines, when he was removed from a flight for being too heavy, it was Virgin America‘s turn for online infamy.

A flight this past Saturday from Los Angeles to New York was diverted away from John F. Kennedy International Airport due to high winds and sent to Stewart International Airport in New Windsor, N.Y., some 90 miles northwest of the Big Apple. No issues so far, right? It’s difficult to argue with an airline taking safety precautions, and the conditions in the New York metropolitan area were positively awful Saturday.

The problem: Passengers were kept on the plane for at least four-and-a-half hours, with some reports suggesting six hours, and given next to nothing to eat or drink, because Virgin does not have a presence at Stewart International Airport. The New York Post reported that passengers were limited to a rationed portion of four Pringles potato chips and a half-cup of water before another airline, JetBlue, which does have facilities at Stewart, arranged for buses to transport the passengers to JFK.

As if Virgin wasn’t dealing with enough bad publicity over the incident, one of the passengers on board the flight was the CEO of a social-networking site — David Martin of Kontain — and CNET reported that Martin took full advantage of Virgin’s Wi-Fi connection and his company’s social network to post updates, pictures, and videos chronicling the entire situation.

Among the events captured by Martin: a member of the Virgin Flight crew telling a passenger, “You are really getting on my freaking nerves! You need to shut the hell up!” as well as the airline frantically tweeting Martin to try to connect with him, according to CNET.

So, back to the memo to airlines: If you screw up, people will know about it, immediately. Somewhere, Kevin Smith is laughing.