NEWS
19/11/2019 11:51 AM AEDT | Updated 19/11/2019 11:57 AM AEDT

Will.i.am Defends Himself After Qantas Urges Rapper To Withdraw Racism Claim

Comes after the airline said it stood ready to offer legal assistance to its crew member at the centre of the saga.

SUZANNE CORDEIRO via Getty Images
The Black Eyed Peas rapper will.i.am has defended his use of noise-cancelling headphones while on a Qantas flight

The Black Eyes peas rapper will.i.am has defended his use of noise-cancelling headphones while on a Qantas flight, after the airline requested he retract his statement accusing a crew member of being racist. 

“We live in 2019 & technology is advancing...they have WiFi is certain planes & noise canceling is becoming a standard,” the 44-year-old tweeted on Monday evening.

“People who serve the paying public need to know that passengers have on devices that block out outside sound...sending the POLICE after them is a bit much.” 

The US singer had taken a flight about 1-1/2-hours long to Sydney from Brisbane to play at a concert on Saturday, but was met by Australian federal police at the arrival gate.

He said on Twitter he was racially targeted by an airline attendant, whom he identified by name, after failing to put away his laptop as the flight prepared to land, because he had put on noise-canceling headphones to “make beats”. 

Qantas, which called the incident a “misunderstanding,” requested the rapper to retract his statement. The airline said on Monday it stood ready to offer legal assistance to the member of its flight crew. 

“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,” a spokesman told Reuters in a statement.

Police confirmed they spoke to crew and passengers at the airport, but said no further action was required.

“The Australian Federal Police considers this matter finalised,” they said in a statement.

On Saturday, will.i.am said in a post on Twitter, “Is calling the police on a passenger for not hearing (the) P.A. due to wearing noise-canceling headphones appropriate?”

He added, “If didn’t put away my laptop ‘in a rapid 2 min time’ I’d understand. I did comply quickly & politely, only to be greeted by police. I think I was targeted.”

Will.i.am had not made any retraction on social media, even as other commenters pointed out that the crew member he identified had received threats on social media as a result.

He pointed out that if he were rude to a fan or journalist, he would be publicly named.

“This is what Twitter is for...we are supposed to call out wrongdoings so we can have a safer, more compassionate world,” will.i.am said.

Reuters was not able to contact the rapper through his agency, and he did not immediately respond to a request for comment on social media.

Reporting by Melanie Burton.