Black Eyed Pea’s singer will.i.am has accused a member of staff on a Qantas flight of racism after an incident onboard a plane bound for Sydney.
The 44-year-old wrote on Twitter about the incident, claiming he was a victim of racially-motivated abuse after he failed to hear the flight announcement due to his noise-cancelling headphones.
The rapper, whose real name is William Adams, said: “I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney. I’m sorry to say me and my group have experienced the worst service due to 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.”
In another tweet, will.i.am said: “@Qantas I was making music wearing noise-cancelling headphones on the plane… I’m sorry I couldn’t hear the P.A…I complied when she’s tapped me on the shoulder to put my laptop away… It’s sad that your #RacistFlightAttendant sent the police…”
Speaking to the Standard, Qantas said it completely rejects the suggestion the incident had anything to do with race but said there had been a “misunderstanding on board”.
Will.i.am shared a picture of a police officer greeting him when he landed in Sydney.
“This is how your [sic] greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying @qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant,” he added. “She sent the police after me because I couldn’t hear the P.A while making beats on the plane wearing noise-cancelling headphones…
“Your #RacistFlightattendant was beyond rude & 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 as [flight attendant].”
The singer added: “I put away my laptop when she asked…why would she feel threatened by me to call the police?”
Many of people on social media tweeted their support for will.i.am, with one person writing: “I was on the same flight and couldn’t believe the appalling behaviour of the flight attendant.”
However, others criticised him for tweeting both the name of the police officer who he met at the airport and the details of the flight attendant he accused of racism to his 12 million followers.
Australian reporter Peter Ford was among those criticising the singer’s decision to reveal the flight attendant’s identity online.
“Some of your many millions of followers have already started abusing this woman. Hoping you ask them to stop,” Mr Ford said.
He later defended his decision, saying: “If I did something wrong….or if I was the slightest bit rude to a FAN or a journalist during work, I would be publicly named…this is what Twitter is for…we are supposed to call out wrong doings so we can have a safer more compassionate world.”
A spokesman for Qantas said: “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.
“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.”