Will.i.am accused a flight attendant from Australia’s national carrier, Qantas, of being racist and rude to him on a flight over the weekend.
The Black Eyed Peas musician said he was met by police at Sydney Airport on Saturday after an exchange with an “overly aggressive flight attendant” who he said “has clearly aimed all her frustrations only at the people of colour.”
Will.i.am claimed he was greeted by the officer because he “couldn’t hear the P.A.” due to wearing noise-cancelling headphones.
He and the Black Eyed Peas are in Australia to perform as part of a world tour.
Qantas said in a statement that it rejected the allegation the incident had anything to do with race and said it was a “misunderstanding.”
“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,” the airline said in a statement. “We’ll be following up with will.i.am and wish him well for the rest of the tour.”
Some of Will.i.am’s Twitter followers criticized the artist for writing the flight attendant’s full name on social media.
Some Twitter users who said they were passengers on the flight agreed with him.
Some of Will.i.am’s fans reportedly began harassing the flight attendant on Twitter after he released her name to his 12.8 million followers.
The Scream & Shout artist asked his fans not to send the flight attendant hate.
“This type of disrespect and name calling is uncalled for… I don’t support abuse & attacks like this,” he tweeted.
Qantas has now said it will help its crew member take legal action against Will.i.am if he doesn’t retract his claim.
The company has offered legal support to its employee after the performer took to Twitter and shared her full name.
A spokesperson for the airline told CNN that “if the crew member wanted to take the matter further,” it would help them take defamation action.
“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,” the spokesperson told the outlet.
Flight Attendants Association of Australia secretary Teri O’Toole told the Sydney Morning Herald that it was “outrageous” the cabin member was publicly named for doing her job.
“Cabin crew are aviation’s first responders — we’re there for emergency requirements to protect and save the lives of passengers,” O’Toole said.
“People who fly a lot should understand there are requirements, and the fact that people are still fighting with us over those, I can’t explain it.”
This is not the first time Will.i.am has taken to Twitter to discuss his thoughts about an airline.
In 2014, the artist posted a series of tweets directed at United Airlines after the airline gave away his seat on a transatlantic flight because he arrived too late to check in.
Will.i.am reportedly arrived 45 minutes before his flight to China was due to depart from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport.
— With files from the Associated Press