Will.i.am Says He Was Targeted by 'Racist Flight Attendant' in Australia

The singer says the flight attendant called the police on him because he failed to put his laptop away.


Image via Getty/Jordi Vidal/Redferns


Will.i.am is putting a Qantas flight attendant on blast, following an onboard incident that ended with police involvement.

The Black Eyed Peas artist took to Twitter on Thursday, claiming he and his crew were targeted by an "overly aggressive flight attendant" during their flight from Brisbane to Sydney. According to TMZ, the incident started after passengers were instructed to put away all electronics as the plane was preparing to land. Will.i.am claims he did not hear the announcement because he had noise-canceling headphones on, and therefore did not put away his laptop. He said the flight attendant eventually asked him to put the device away; and although he complied, the woman allegedly became "out of control" and called the police on him.

Will.i.am initially stated he did not think the flight attendant was racist; but he changed his tune as the tweetstorm continued. 

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

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019


I was making music wearing noise canceling 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... pic.twitter.com/LmitBhTjfi

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

Will.i.am said he was approached by Australian officers shortly after landing, but was ultimately let go because other passengers came to his defense. 

.@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 Lorraine Marshall 😵

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

He then shared a photo of said flight attendant along with her full name—a move that quickly drew criticism. Entertainment reporter Peter Ford expressed doubt that the situation had anything to do with race, and then criticized Will.i.am for using his platform to intimidate the flight attendant and failing to denounce the subsequent threats she was receiving. The artist insisted it was he was one intimidated and that he was bringing light to the situation to ensure no other minorities would have to endure a similar experience.

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

This is me filing a “proper complaint”...this way I know my complaint & treatment will be heard...I’m using the same tool you would use if you were wrongly accused of doing something & pulled away by police officers. I still don’t know what I did wrong for police to come 🤦🏿‍♂️ https://t.co/i3ShYc3PaX

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

I am posting so that this doesn’t happen again...it shouldn’t happen to a Aboriginal, Latino, African, LGBTQ White, Red or anyone... everyone deserves to be treated with respect... https://t.co/rcND4e1JUx

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

Will.i.am also addressed the threats and attacks the flight attendant was receiving, stating he does not condone or support this type of abuse. He did not, however, regret any of his tweets on the matter.

Please do not send Hate...This type of disrespect and name calling is uncalled for...I don’t support abuse & attacks like this...I hope that everyone can be more compassionate & understanding towards one another...because it was the lack of compassion that caused this #noH8 pic.twitter.com/zNwoIyyaBP

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

I don’t regret my actions of taking to public to speak for the other for those who don’t have the voice who felt the same disrespect... I am saddened that People chose to spread hate and attack... there were other people on the flight were disrespected https://t.co/IUy0hvETso https://t.co/V41bexQHjU

— will.i.am (@iamwill) November 16, 2019

A Qantas representative has released a statement to the Independent, saying the company will follow up with Will.i.am, but does not believe incident was race-related.

"There was a misunderstanding on board, which seems to have been exacerbated by Will.i.am wearing noise-canceling 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."

Latest in Music