Startling twist in Qantas flight drama
Australian pop duo The Veronicas have weighed in on the drama surrounding Black Eyed Peas star will.i.am, who accused a Qantas flight attendant of racism after a tense incident on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney on Saturday.
The rapper and songwriter tweeted while he was still on the plane, telling his 12.8 million followers he had been mistreated by an "overly aggressive flight attendant".
"I don't want to believe she racist. But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour," he said.
I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
I’m sorry to say me and my group have experienced they worse service due to a overly aggressive flight attendant...
I don’t want to believe she racist.
But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour
Will.i.am said the incident took place as the crew was preparing to land the flight in Sydney.
He said the incident happened about 20 minutes into the flight when he had not heard announcements over the PA because he was wearing noise cancelling headphones.
He was then confronted by the flight attendant when he did not put away his laptop fast enough.
When the plane landed, he was met by five police officers, who let him go without further incident.
"Qantas, your racist flight attendant was beyond rude and took it to the next level by calling the police on me. Thank god the other passengers testified that she was out of control. The police finally let me go. Imagine if the police were as aggressive," he said.
"Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing the PA due to wearing noise cancelling headphones appropriate?
"I did comply quickly and politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted."
He went on to allege the flight attendant "singled every person of colour in the flight and gave them a hard time", and that "other passengers on the flight agreed that she was out of hand".
He later defended his actions to the Sunday Telegraph.
"I've never seen this, it was like a police state," will.i.am told the publication.
"I am the coolest traveller, I don't ask for much. I try to stay out of their way. I come on the plane to go to sleep or I go to work.
"I wish no harm to that lady, hopefully this is a lesson," he said.
"She shouldn't lose her job over it - if anything she should be retrained on how to deal with people. This is an opportunity to be pleasant to everyone, to just be nice."
Me too I was on the flight and I was hiding in the toilet shivering, shaking and shuddering uncontrollably while this horrendous racist attack was unfolding.— Mark Trent (@trentster) November 16, 2019
I was on the same flight and couldn’t believe the appalling behaviour of the flight attendant. My apologies on behalf of Australia.— Kate Selway (@kate_selway) November 16, 2019
I was intimidated by 5 police officers when I landed...for what? 🤷🏿♂️ I put away my laptop when she asked...why would she feel threatened by me to call the police? What did I do wrong? I wasn’t out of hand.. I was polite & did what she asked... now you’re asking me to take abuse? https://t.co/1390ThymY3— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019
The singer also retweeted a couple of people who said they were on the same flight, and agreed with him.
He hit back at suggestions he was intimidating the flight attendant in question by singling her out and naming her online. News.com.au has not named her for legal reasons.
Meanwhile Sunday morning saw a twist in the story when Australian band The Veronicas tweeted "in support" of the singer, claiming the same flight atttendant was involved in an incident with them as well.
"We feel sickened she was given no reprisal and has instead continued to abuse her position, discriminate and misuse the full force and intimidation of the Australian Federal Police to her agenda," they tweeted.
"Qantas should have run a genuine investigation into the matter, instead of shifting blame and denying accountability."
Sisters Lisa and Jess Origliasso made headlines after they were "embarrassingly" removed from a Qantas aircraft by three federal police.
At the time, the Aussie pop duo said the ordeal was "crazy" and "confusing", but the airline hit back, saying the Aussie pop duo "refused to follow crew instructions" on the flight from Sydney to Brisbane and were therefore deemed a security risk.
Qantas has denied the incident with will.i.am was race-related, instead putting it down to a "misunderstanding".
"There was a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by will.i.am wearing noise cancelling headphones and not being able to hear instructions from crew," a spokesman for the airline said.
"We completely reject the suggestion this had anything to do with race. We'll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour."
The Black Eyed Peas were headlining an event at Homebush in Sydney's west on Saturday night.
Qantas' celebrity spat in September with The Veronicas kicked off on the same route but travelling in the opposite direction, from Sydney to Brisbane.
Twin sisters Lisa and Jess were removed from the flight after they "refused to follow crew instructions" and were deemed security risks.
They claimed the incident was "escalated without explanation" from cabin staff, and was "incredibly intimidating and confusing".
It resulted in the plane being stuck on the tarmac for 45 minutes.
There were conflicting accounts from passengers at the time, with some backing the sisters' assertions that Qantas had been unreasonable, and others accusing the pair of being "belligerent".
Qantas said they had "refused to follow crew instructions and were offloaded".