Friday, March 1, 2013

Investigation launched after airline ‘Harlem Shake’ video goes viral!

Harlem Shake video onboard flight prompts FAA investigation
Dancing up a storm - 'Harlem Shake' filmed on flight
There’s no avoiding the ‘Harlem Shake’ these days. The homemade dance videos are clogging up the internet at alarming speed, from Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and of course YouTube, it seems everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. Its little surprise, therefore, that the most popular examples are clocking millions of views from around the world.

Around a week ago, I wrote a blog post about how an Air India pilot got into trouble when his YouTube rap video went viral, with lyrics that complained about the national carrier (click here, if you missed that article). And now it’s a ‘Harlem Shake’ video – filmed on-board a Frontier Airliners flight – that has prompted the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to launched an investigation.


This isn’t the first aviation-themed Harlem Shake video, of course, but most were filmed on aircraft that were grounded. This time around, however, that wasn’t the case.

The video was filmed by 18 college students, who were travelling to a Frisbee tournament in San Diego last month, according to CNN. It seems they asked the fight crew for permission and were allowed to use the aircraft’s public address system to inform other passengers about the stunt.

"We wanted to make sure that we followed every regulation and that nothing went wrong, and that it was OK with (the airplane crew)," CNN quotes team member Matt Zelin as saying. "We just figured being on a plane, you know, you need to make sure everything is safe, and we just talked to flight attendants and they were excited."

After the plane landed, they posted the 30-second video online, and it went viral. "And so it went from kind of this, kind of joking around idea among the team to something that was reality, and then it was on YouTube and there were hundreds of thousands of views and now we're talking to you guys," Zelin added.

The video is below and the last I checked, it had crossed the half-a-million views mark… impressive! At the same time, however, it set alarm bells ringing at the FAA.



"I hate to be a bureaucratic kill-joy," commented Steve Wallace, former director of the FAA's Office of Accident Investigation. "I think there is a safety issue here. Turbulence injuries are the most common type of injuries, and they are virtually eliminated when people are in their seat belts."

According to the CNN report, the FAA is "looking into" the video and trying to determine the circumstances of the videotaping (and whether the seat belt sign was on). Frontier Airlines could not comment because of the FAA investigation, but said "all safety measures were followed and the seat belt sign was off."

What are your thoughts? Was this a safety concern or a bit of fun? As always, please feel free to share your comments here, and you can also get in touch on FacebookTwitter and Google+ - I look forward to connecting with you!

34 comments :

  1. W Russell Miller jrMarch 1, 2013 at 3:57 PM

    Kill joys...people are taking themselves way too seriously these days and we're governed by "chicken littles"!

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  2. Traveling these days is tough enough without having to sit through these self indulgent children. This is just another reason to not fly Frontier.

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  3. A safety issue? Certainly not. Is imposing yourself on other passengers OK? Well... maybe not.

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  4. Flight Safety Risk? No seriously - I mean an actual risk to the safety of the aircraft in flight? Certainly not, FAA, it was the captain's prerogative to do some mind mind work and make a decision.

    Obstruction to cabin crew in case of an emergency or a hazard for personal injury in case of turbulence? Certainly no more than having heavy meal trolleys obstructing the aisles with all kinds of potential flying objects stacked on them, or people walking and stretching legs on long flights.

    A nuisance - some passengers imposing themselves on others? Depends on what your individual psychological disposition was at the time, I should imagine.

    A big deal? Hell, no - God forbid that we regulate ourselves into a nanny state as a little island next to Europe has become by authoritiive Acts and police execution.

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  5. It's good to hear the FAA is looking into this. Safety issues are crucial to the airlines industry and attention from regulators will likely enhance travelers' confidence in flying. The video was funny in a way though, has the potential to be turned into guerrilla marketing campaign...

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  6. Airline travel is tough enough without rowdy kids jumping around in a narrow aisle. You want to make this video? Charter the plane for your video production. My feelings are that the flight crew should have been more considerate to the other passengers. A safety issue? Always potentially, but in this case nothing happened so apparently not.

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  7. Sorry, but there's a time and place ... not on a crowded single-aisle plane, especially where some people might not even know what it is and not necessarily see the humor. It has nothing to do with being kill joys and people taking themselves too seriously.

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  8. Did the flight attendants get the OK from the passengers? If so, what is the big deal? If they did not they should have.

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  9. Sounds like a typical charter flight to the Caribbean or Spain with more booze than fuel on board ......Been there, done that and lived through a bunch of po'd pax when we cut off their on board libation.

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  10. If you can do chroma key, why do a filming on board alive, no sense; hire profesional film makers instead. This is totally stupid.

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  11. Paul PaluszewskiMarch 3, 2013 at 7:29 PM

    One more thing to add to the growing list of commercial aircraft design criteria, I guess!

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  12. Safety first...check, Seat belt signs were off...check, flight crew and all other passengers where aware of what was going on...check, let's do the Harlem Shuffle. Come on ppl, that was a fun flight and I wasn't even there.

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  13. "Airline travel is tough enough" because people driven by media take that attitude from the moment they start to think about flying commercial. Flying should be safe, in the first place, and also positive enjoyable experience that people traveling will carry home.

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  14. I survived a a DC-8 flight from ORD to LAX one time with a plane full of Shriners headed for a convention. One of which marched up and down playing his bagpipe for the duration. Now I like a little bit of bagpipe, not 4 hours worth!

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  15. Lucian BeardsleyMarch 4, 2013 at 9:35 PM

    If interfering with the duties of a Flight Crew is a Federal offense, then the plane should of been met by the Feds. Let them sort it out.

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  16. W Russell Miller JrMarch 5, 2013 at 11:07 AM

    Sorry Mark but you prove my point! I remember the "old days" when people had fun flying!

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  17. Russell, I get what your saying, but I still think there's a time and place. I've been traveling since the sixties, and I don't remember dancing in the aisles -- ever. Though, the piano bar on the 747 was lots of fun. :-) It was more fun then because of the absence of security, less cramped flights, more legroom, and seatmates who didn't come to the airport in their workout clothes or pajamas. Thing is, despite fond memories of the past, I still love getting on an airplane and going somewhere, even if my bags go somewhere better.

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  18. W Russell Miller JrMarch 5, 2013 at 3:14 PM

    True Mark but these days, letting off a little steam,harmlessly, in an over regulated society that we have now can't be all bad. Actually, I can remember the days of "stewardess' streaking the cabin and passengers standing , drinking and generally partying the whole way over the Atlantic!

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  19. David VandenbroeckMarch 5, 2013 at 7:57 PM

    If one pax or a group of them are being disruptive onboard and just one other pax has issues with it, it is incumbent on the crew to put it to a quick end.

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  20. Cabin crew should be trained enough to handle this kind of situation and flight safety should not be compromised just for fun or for some photo shoots.

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  21. As a former Flight Attendant I say: Thank God there were no injuries during this lapse of judgement.

    As a frequent flyer I say: It's good to get up and blow off some steam, especially on the longer flights.

    As a person with poor circulation might say: It's healthy to get up and stretch and circulate.

    It's an all win or no win situation, depending on who you are and what your role. Not an easy situation.

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  22. I really don't get the idea of the big fuss about this, like what's the big deal it's not a bomb on board or a kind of racism it's a Harlem shake. With a bit of modding could be like an advert.

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  23. It's a SAFETY issue. The average person does not think like a terror*** therefore the average person will not "get it." But for those of us that are savvy, this is a classic scenario of what is called "Distraction."

    While there is a seemingly innocuous event going on, a terror*** with seize the moment to plant a device, etc. Some of the "what's the big deal responses" to this article are proof that the American public 1) have forgotten the threat and 2) still require more education about what we are dealing with for a Threat.

    Please don't shoot the messenger.

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  24. And what about those passengers who just want a quiet flight. I am certain the stupid antics of those college idiots were not written on the flight tickets so that passengers could be warned of the disruption to their peaceful flight.

    One has to raise the question of why do people want to work for an airline when they are happy to allow certain passengers to behave in any manner they wish? And as Angeline pointed out, it is a safety issue. Terrorists are opportunists, and they will take advantage of any incident, event or opportunity that is handed to them.

    As for the flight attendants, they need retraining in aspects of flight safety, potential terrorists threats (if they have such training in that airline) and control of passenger behaviour.

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  25. It's a craze soon to pass away..yada yada yada. So now it has been done on a commercial plane and most likely the airlines are not going to permit this from happening again.

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  26. Made my British stiff upper lip crack into a smile. If the landing gear ever refuses to deploy we now have the booty shaking solution.

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  27. I think the real issue is whether or not the Fasten Seat Belt was on or off. I have seen un-supervised 5 year olds causing more distractions on an aircraft this.

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  28. Reminds me of something similar, but MUCH more dangerous I once encountered. I was on a flight with KLM from AMS to CAI back in 2002. All was quiet on the plane until we touched down. At the very moment the main gears touched the ground, about 20 Egyptian women stood up and started dancing...all while the thrust revers were still deployed!

    The poor Dutch flight attendants had no idea how to handle it (not that I would have either). I couldn't help what an American flight crew would have done, especially because this was only about 6 months after the 9/11 attacks.

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  29. Hey Steve Warren, Not proud of this but I actually used the phrase once: I am here to save your a** not kiss it or entertain it so do as I say or I will have the police greet you at the door when we land. Seemed to work and no complaint letters. That was after 911 when people were reporting their seat partners for looking sideways. Really brought out the craziness in people.

    Hi Anthony Nasta, you're right too. ANY distraction will work for a terror*** so Flight Crew's have protocols for handling the 5 yr olds raging up and down the isles. All crews are not created equal though in regards to experience, personality, and resourcefulness. I apologize on behalf of that crew that you were inconvenienced. But regardless if you were inconvenienced, that scenario remains an ever present safety issue....similar to the ever present issue of turbulence shall we say.

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  30. It seems that not only the kids did it but other passengers took part like the elder man on the left or the kid who was probably raised by his parents into the camera just before the end so it doesn't seem they were bothering others. It also seems to me most of them avoided actual "jumping" and they rather just moved their hands and bended their knees. Furthermore, that part of the video is about 15 seconds long and could not have created more movement than a regular turbulence. I think the idea is great and if the flying conditions were clear, I wouldn't find it dangerous.

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  31. David VandenbroeckMarch 9, 2013 at 3:35 PM

    Angeline, why do you write "terror***" rather than spelling out the entire word "terrorist"? There is nothing wrong with using the complete word.

    Also, there is a difference between stretching your legs and acting like a complete moron. No one believes that on a long flight there is anything wrong about getting up and quietly walking the aisles. Having flown several transoceanic flights, both Pacific and Atlantic, I know the value and importance of being able to do so.

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  32. Susan C. FriedenbergMarch 9, 2013 at 8:01 PM

    I think time well spent would be for an investigation on why TSA is allowing knives on planes...... INSANE. Dancing and having fun is a crime and needs time and $ spent for an investigation? Are you kidding me? The FAA needs its head examined. Totally ridiculous in my opinion. The Harlem Shake is not a security or a safety infraction. Give me a break! LOL

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  33. The FAA should spend their time elsewhere! I say props to the guys who put the video together.

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  34. Out of all the flights, how many drunks/dancers have I encountered? None. How many times I have enjoyed the luxury of having the seat in front of me collapse into my face as the passenger reclined his/her seat? Every flight.

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