Australian carrier Qantas is asking for US rapper Will.i.am to retract his claims of in-flight racism and added that it would back legal action against the Black Eyed Peas frontman.
The multiple Grammy award-winning artist had lashed out at a Qantas flight attendant on Twitter. The stewardess reportedly called the police over an altercation during a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
In a series of tweets using the hashtag #RacistFlightAttendant, the star named the flight attendant and claimed that the crew member was “beyond rude” and “overly aggressive” and that she unnecessarily escalated the situation after he didn’t hear an onboard safety briefing because he was wearing noise-cancelling headphones.
Netizens are divided on the matter with some saying that it is the rapper’s fault for wearing headphone during the flight.
Will.i.am defended his use of the headphones after a Twitter user said the “‘noise-cancelling headphones’ excuse just doesn’t work”.
“We live in 2019 & technology is advancing…they have WiFi in certain planes & noise cancelling is becoming a standard. People who serve the paying public need to know that passengers have on devices that block out outside sound…sending the POLICE after them is a bit much.”
However, a Qantas spokesman denied that race was a factor in the incident. “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,” he said.
He added that the airline would be willing to support legal action against the star and said: “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.”
Will.i.am was in Australia for a five-city tour, which culminated in Sydney on 16 November.