In-flight entertainment: when flying goes wrong for musicians

Jason Derulo is just the latest musician to find that flying commercial brings out the worst in him. Here are five other examples of when pop stars meet planes … with disastrous consequences

Rough flight? Maybe there was a rock star on board. Photograph: David Wall/Alamy

When did airports become so awful? They used to seem majestic. Regal, even. In the past, commercial flights seemed high-class affairs, where you could eat with metal cutlery and smoke a cigarette while speeding your way to an exotic destination halfway across the world.

Look at them now. I consider it a miracle each time I make it to the airport, through the security area and into my seat on the plane without bursting into silent tears or repeating “I hate everyone” under my breath.

When you consider what we’re up against, Jason Derulo’s recent altercation with Southwest Airlines staff in Nevada almost makes sense. The R&B singer and his entourage were set to travel to last Saturday’s Teen Choice awards in LA from Reno-Tahoe International airport. In what may have been the only display of rational and relatable behaviour from Derulo and his posse, they elected to use the TSA pre-check system. It’s essentially a pre-registered fast-track queue that lets US travellers skip the modern hell of departure security once they’ve been deemed low-risk travellers by the US government.

Unfortunately for Derulo et al, the pre-check machines were down. The singer was allegedly told that he would have to stand in line like everyone else. “We were literally just trying to not cause a ruckus,” Derulo later said. “My security was just trying to tell the agent, ‘Can we go to this section so we don’t cause a ruckus?’”

Er, no. Derulo cited “a lot of picture-taking and that stuff” as further proof that going through security like a normal person would be extra hassle for him. In fairness, he is a well-known pop star in the US. But unfortunately, no number of top 40 hits gives someone the power to trump the TSA’s rules. After kicking up a fuss, he and his lot were asked to leave the plane – and he ended up taking a private jet to LA, as per an Instagram video he later uploaded.

Derulo joins a healthy stable of musicians who’ve found themselves involved in flight-related controversies – from Courtney Love to the Stone Roses’ Ian Brown. Whether succumbing to the rage that air travel naturally inspires, or lurching through a near-crash, here are five of the best recent examples. Which would you add?

1. ‘I’m just trying to get to my fucking seat’

Green Day frontman Billie Joe Armstrong was chucked off a plane for refusing to hoist up his sagging trousers, in September 2011. According to an ABC producer, who happened to be on the same flight, Armstrong responded with, “don’t you have better things to do than worry about that?” when challenged by the flight attendant. Apparently not. When he failed to comply, Armstrong was shown the exit. His angry tweets about the incident only add to its delightful absurdity.

2. ‘You’re just a captain and I’m REM’

A decade earlier, REM guitarist Peter Buck felt the highs and lows of mixing wine and sleeping pills. On a British Airways flight from Seattle to London, Buck allegedly opened a yogurt pot all over himself and a flight attendant in a scuffle, sat down next to a woman in business class and claimed (wrongly) that she was his wife, overturned a food trolley and physically struggled with two members of in-flight staff. In the court testimony after the altercation, Buck was said to have told the captain – who came out of the cockpit to deal with the kerfuffle – that he was “just a fucking captain and I’m REM”. Whether or not that comparison holds any water, Buck was cleared of all charges in 2002.

3. ‘Welcome to Bangkok’

Don’t mess with Björk. The Icelandic musician and producer appears to be some sort of forest-dwelling nymph queen, but could clearly square up to anyone, if necessary. In 1996, a reporter learned this lesson the hard way. A quick “welcome to Bangkok” in the city’s international airport turned to blows and ended with people having to pull Björk off the journalist. She’d clearly had it with the press and paparazzi following her and her son around. In 2008, Björk was also accused of ripping a paparazzo’s shirt at Auckland airport. Like I said: leave this one, mate.

Bjork hitting a journalist at Bangkok international airport in 1996

4. ‘A very nasty man tried to kill us all but we’re all right now’

A joyous post-Christmas flight this certainly was not. In December 2000, a “mentally unstable man” tried to commandeer an aircraft on the way from London to Nairobi. Bryan Ferry was among those on the flight – as well as Jemima Khan, who later wrote about her so-called “plane porn” obsession. The pilot issued the above statement after passengers helped staff bundle the man out of the cockpit. Don’t worry, Ferry was in no way involved in the violent scuffle, though he did state the beautifully obvious upon arrival, saying: “I’m relieved to get here in one piece.”

5. ‘There’s a serious lack of funny bones around here’

Susan Boyle may not seem like the type to throw an airport hissy fit – because she didn’t. In 2010, the Sun reported that she’d lost her cool in a VIP British Airways departure lounge, singing and “shouting obscenities at high volume”. But, according to a short report on an Irish news site, SuBo had been having a bit of fun singing on request. When one fellow VIP sounded less than enthused about the performance, Boyle apparently grabbed a mop, continued singing into it and then used to it “shine” the disapproving man’s shoes. Wait. This story is still ridiculous, whichever way it’s spun. The final word, from British Airways: “A customer in the BA lounge on Tuesday was asked to temper their behaviour as it was becoming disruptive.” Fine.

Via the Guardian

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