FAA investigating "Harlem Shake" on plane

Colorado College students who are members of the school's ultimate frisbee team convinced the crew of a Frontier Airlines fight to let them do the "Harlem Shake." The FAA, the same killjoys who think your game of Angry Birds on an iPhone during lift-off will crash a plane, is looking into whether safety rules may have been violated. [NPR]


    1. The FAA would probably say something more like, “I have had it with these monkey fighting Harlem Shakes on this Monday to Friday plane!”

    1.  It’s like having a party in your apartment: tell all your neighbors in advance – giving a clear start and end time and other details so they will know what to expect – and be sure to invite them to join you.  Unless someone outright objects, you’re good to go.

  1. What’s up with the air-quotes on “ultimate frisbee team”? Sure they’re only ranked 74th nationally, but that’s not too shabby for a school of 2,000. 

    1. With you on the larger point of not diminishing their being a team, but I just want to point out that in Ultimate it is generally easier for a small school to field a nationally competitive team. Recent national champs have been from a school with 2,000 enrolled students.

  2. Any plane that’s fragile enough to have structural problems after a few seconds of passengers dancing in place isn’t fit to handle turbulence.  Or were they worried that the video camera was going to cause interference and crash the plane?

      1. As I’ve only seen one gallon smashing video, as much as I loathed the kids doing it, and could only think of who has to clean it up.  It did make me laugh a little, but thankfully I was able to quickly hide my laughter and replaced it with a stern look of disapproval.

  3. Its better to wear seat belts. I have flown in clear air turbulence with more than 1g, both up and down, and you really want to be attached to your seat when that happens. Also you don’t want frisbee team members landing in your lap or on your head.

    1. This is a bit off-topic, but it came to mind when I thought of the gap between regulations and common sense.  I once flew with my under-two-years-old daughter on Iceland Air. I purchased a seat for her so that she could be in her car seat during the flight. Upon boarding, I was advised by the cabin crew that under the regulations that Iceland Air followed, she could only be in the car seat for the cruise portion of the flight. For takeoff and landing, and during turbulence, I was required to take her out of the car seat and hold her unrestrained in my lap. Apparently letting my child be a 20+ pound projectile was considered safer under their regulations than letting her sit in her FAA-approved car seat.

  4. This is awesome, I’d love to see more people get arrested for terrible internet memes, GO TSA

  5. Sure, but what if they’d been terrorists pretending to be a sports team? They might have had explosives in their ultimate bats. You didn’t think of that did you?

  6. The authorities really don’t have a very good record for correctly determining what is and isn’t a threat to air safety. They’ll probably ban Frisbees now.

    1.  Shifting the center of mass of the plane can cause serious handling problems, and that seems to have been the real issue in the article cited, but the people in the video were distributed fairly uniformly throughout the plane and mostly moving in place, which really isn’t similar at all.

  7. I think I might have been the buzzjoy in my seat, hugging my knees, frightened out of my wits, and hoping to the gods I don’t believe in that I wasn’t about to plummet to my doom in what would easily have been the stupidest way to die.

  8. the only reason this is on boingboing is because of the dancing banana.  and i’m ok with that.  also, dancing nixon-mask guy ftw.

  9. The FAA won’t touch this because it is PR Kryptonite and the political appointees running the show know it.

    But any career FAA flight examiner would be chomping at the bit to slap that flightcrew for showing terrible judgment.  If you are a professional flightcrew member responsible for the safety of a few hundred passengers, the right answer to the question “May several dozen of us leave our seats and start jumping up and down on your aircraft” is NO!

    It’s a stupid, unnecessary risk: risk of injuries to participants and bystanders from the thrashing about, risk of injury to the dozens of unbelted passengers and bystanders due to clear-air-turbulence, and a small but completely avoidable risk of non-trivial damage to the aircraft interior (e.g. what is under that floor panel, that wall panel, that ceiling panel that the 200-pound frat boy just hurled himself against?) 

    Aviation professionals don’t let passengers do stupid stuff on their airplane.

  10. My brother was on that plane. They cleared everything with the flight attendants in advance and used the PA system to explain what was planned. As you may notice several obviously non-college age people are participating, they were invited to do so via the PA system.

    From everything i’ve heard the fasten seat belt sign was off and the flight crew forewarned.

    Yeah granted if they had hit turbulence in the middle of it that might have sucked but that is a constant risk any time the fasten seat belt sign is off.

    This was done as “by the book” and safely as any spontaneously funny/odd action can be.

  11. Hopefully with enough rules and investigations we can stomp out fun forever on the planet.

  12. If safety rules were violated, the airline staff would have reported the incident. Government regulators should not be trolling the internet looking for evidence of misconduct. It’s ok if they were to investigate whether existing safety regulations are sufficient to protect life and property based on media found online. And then, they may instruct crews not to allow proven unsafe behavior. 

    What’s being implied here is that if you ask the local authority permission to do something, and they say yes, that you may be held responsible for a crime that you had no idea even existed because higher authorities find out about your actions after the fact.

    1. If you are a responsible pilot, or boater, or gun-owner, or really anyone who is serious about pursuing a dangerous activity in the most responsible way possible, this story can come across as totally infuriating, but not because of any of the issues you discuss.

      Just like a responsible gun-owner knows you don’t “mess around” with a gun, a responsible aircrew member knows you don’t “mess around” with air safety. 

      That a trained aircrew allowed this gratuitous safety deviation for the sake of a video is just as infuriating as watching someone point a triple-checked “unloaded” gun at someone for the sake of a video. 

      No law has been violated, maybe even no rule has been violated, but  for a professional to acquiesce to a taking gratuitous risks with other people’s welfare by deviating from recognized safety procedures “just this one time” really strikes a nerve. 

      If you were trained right, you were trained to never take a “I’ll try to get away with this just this one time” attitude, and you were told the reasons why: because the archives of the NTSB are full of stories about highly proficient, experienced aviators that messed around “just this once” for reasons that seem utterly silly in hindsight.

      1. How is this a “gratuitous safety deviation”? If a bunch of passengers jumping up and down for 20 seconds puts the plane at risk then what would turbulence do?

        1. You illustrate the point quite well: the passengers really don’t understand — and shouldn’t be expected to fully understand — how to ensure their safety and the safety of the flight.  They rely on the crew for guidance on that.

          But the crew should be able to easily answer why this was a “gratuitous safety deviation”, and it’s not really because of any potential impact on flight stability or risk of structural failure.  It’s because airplane cabins are pretty terrible places for lots of people to be jumping up and down in: you can hurt yourself, badly; you can hit someone else and hurt them, badly; you can get thrown around by turbulence and injure yourself or others; you can hit and break whatever is on/below that ceiling panel, or that wall panel, or that floor panel.  Aircrews are TRAINED to be aware of the risks, and are TRAINED to manage passengers so as to minimize the risks.  And they went ahead and ignored their training “just this once”. That’s a “gratuitous safety deviation”.  

          I don’t expect the captain of the ultimate frisbee team to worry about this stuff.  But the Frontier crew was trained and paid to worry about this stuff, and they blew it off.

    2. Government regulators should not be trolling the internet looking for evidence of misconduct.

      But… but… that’s job creation.

  13. Man, someone missed out bigtime on the chance to have a “FAA investigating Shakes on a plane” headline.

  14. An FAA spokesman exclaimed:

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