Will.i.am accuses Qantas of racism, airline demands he retract story

Will.i.am accused a flight attendant from Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, of being racist and rude to him on a flight over the weekend.

The Black Eyed Peas musician said he was met by police at Sydney Airport on Saturday after an exchange with an “overly aggressive flight attendant” who he said “has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour.”

“I’m currently on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney. 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,” he tweeted.

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Will.i.am claimed he was greeted by the officer because he “couldn’t hear the P.A.” due to wearing noise-cancelling headphones.

This is how your greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying @qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant … She sent the police after me bacause I couldn’t hear the P.A. while making beats on the plane wearing noise canceling headphones…,” he wrote in a followup tweet, attaching a photo of a police officer and including the full name of the flight attendant in the tweet.

In another tweet, Will.i.am wrote: “@Qantas 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 .”

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He and the Black Eyed Peas are in Australia to perform as part of a world tour.

Qantas said in a statement that it rejected the allegation the incident had anything to do with race and said it was 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,” the airline said in a statement. “We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”

Some of Will.i.am’s Twitter followers criticized the artist for writing the flight attendant’s full name on social media.

“Lmao you can’t name and target people because hey did their jobs…” one his followers tweeted.

Will.i.am responded to the follower, writing: “I’m sorry? Is callin the police on a passenger for not hearing he P.A due to wearing noise canceling headphones appropriate? If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”

Some Twitter users who said they were passengers on the flight agreed with him.


Some of Will.i.am’s fans reportedly began harassing the flight attendant on Twitter after he released her name to his 12.8 million followers.

The Scream & Shout artist asked his fans not to send the flight attendant hate.

“This type of disrespect and name calling is uncalled for… I don’t support abuse & attacks like this,” he tweeted.

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Qantas has now said it will help its crew member take legal action against Will.i.am if he doesn’t retract his claim.

The company has offered legal support to its employee after the performer took to Twitter and shared her full name.

A spokesperson for the airline told CNN that “if the crew member wanted to take the matter further,” it would help them take defamation action.

“Absent a retraction, and if the crew member wanted to take the matter further, we’d certainly be willing to provide legal support for them to do this,” the spokesperson told the outlet.

Flight Attendants Association of Australia secretary Teri O’Toole told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was “outrageous” the cabin member was publicly named for doing her job.

“Cabin crew are aviation’s first responders — we’re there for emergency requirements to protect and save the lives of passengers,” O’Toole said.

“People who fly a lot should understand there are requirements, and the fact that people are still fighting with us over those, I can’t explain it.”

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This is not the first time Will.i.am has taken to Twitter to discuss his thoughts about an airline.

In 2014, the artist posted a series of tweets directed at United Airlines after the airline gave away his seat on a transatlantic flight because he arrived too late to check in.

Will.i.am reportedly arrived 45 minutes before his flight to China was due to depart from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.

— With files from the Associated Press

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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