will.i.am calls out “racist flight attendant” following incident en route to Sydney

The Black Eyed Peas frontman says he was met by police at Sydney Airport after an incident with an "overly aggressive flight attendant"

will.i.am has taken to social media to call out a “racist flight attendant” who he says reported him to the police for having his laptop out after she made an announcement asking passengers to put them away.

The Black Eyed Peas frontman says he was met by police at Sydney Airport yesterday (November 16) after an incident on a Qantas flight with an “overly aggressive flight attendant” who he says was upset with him because he couldn’t hear her through his noise-cancelling headphones.

“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,” he tweeted. “I don’t want to believe she racist. But she has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour.”

“This is how your greeted when you land from Brisbane to Sydney flying @qantas with a #RacistFlightattendant named Lorraine Marshall,” he continued, sharing a photograph of a police officer. “She sent the police after me bacause I couldn’t hear the P.A while making beats on the plane wearing noise canceling headphones.”

Adding that the flight attendant was “beyond rude,” he then said that “other passengers testified that SHE was out of Control.”

Someone claiming to be a passenger on the flight corroborated will.i.am’s version of events, tweeting: “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.”

After being “intimidated” by five police officers, will.i.am was let go. He said: “imagine if the police were as aggressive as Lorraine Marshall.”

Following his claims, the Black Eyed Peas frontman noticed that the flight attendant was being subjected to online bullying. He emphasised that despite frustrations with the incident, he thinks it was due to a “lack of compassion.”

“Please do not send Hate,” he tweeted with a screenshot of an abusive comment aimed at the flight attendant.. “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.”

While receiving support from some, will.i.am faced criticism from others who felt it was inappropriate for him to publicly name the flight attendant on his Twitter account.

“I don’t regret my actions,” he said, writing in another tweet that “Twitter is the people’s tool…rich and poor…a tool to use when things go wrong…it allows people can FEEL directly from the people that have FEELINGS…today I FELT discrimination…and I spoke for all the other people who are voiceless.”

“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.”

He added: “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.”

Responding to the incident, Qantas Airlines said in a statement (via Hollywood Reporter): “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’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”