Justin Bieber and his entourage smoked pot a charter plane, says police report
Robert Mark: Bieber has been getting in trouble lately, but this is getting out of line
He says smoking marijuana on a flight could potentially have serious consequences
Mark: Thank goodness the pilots landed safely, but Bieber's behavior was risky
Editor’s Note: Robert P. Mark is a pilot, award-winning journalist and publisher of Jetwhine.com, a website about the aviation industry. He’s been teaching people to fly since 1974. He also teaches at Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism and is author of the upcoming book, “Loss of Control.”
So, Justin Bieber has done something stupid again. This time, he made the headlines by allegedly smoking pot on a chartered airplane and being rude and verbally abusive to the crew on a flight to Teterboro Airport in New Jersey.
Is he just another rich teen idol blowing off a little testosterone? Sure. But seriously, his bad behavior is getting a bit out of control.
For those who may never have flown aboard a charter, think of it like a bigger, swankier limousine where the passengers in the back are pretty much free to do whatever they want.
In a regular airplane, the line in the sand is a bit clearer when it comes to passenger conduct. Unruly behavior is not tolerated on airlines like Delta or American Airlines. Get rowdy and obnoxious enough and most captains would tell the passengers they were landing the airplane at the nearest airport if they didn’t calm down.
On the chartered airplane that carried Bieber, his father and 10 friends, the flight attendant was verbally abused so much so that she took refuge near the cockpit, according to a police report. The report also said that the captain asked the Beiber entourage more than once to stop smoking marijuana, but those demands were ignored.
Worried that the intoxicating fumes would eventually make their way to the cockpit, the pilots donned their emergency oxygen masks. Luckily, all went well and the airplane landed safely.
In the great rulebook of flying, this easily qualifies as interference with the flight crew. However, even though the plane was met by Customs agents and the police upon landing, and the cabin still smelled like marijuana, none of the crew members wanted to press charges. Who has the resources to sue a pop star who can hire the best lawyer money can buy?
Bieber got off easy in this incident. But it could have been a disaster.
What if the crew of the chartered jet, trying to be nice to this unruly bunch of well-paying customers, hadn’t put on the oxygen masks? What if the fumes had gotten them high before they put on those masks? Instead of a bunch of crazies arguing with the flight crew, you could have a flight crew impaired as well.
Imagine a now-impaired flight crew approaching some of the busiest airspace in the world. Could they have managed to get the airplane down on the ground in one piece? Maybe. But maybe not, because when you’re impaired your thinking is off.
Or, what if one of the passengers, already high as a kite, had wandered up front and distracted the pilots (chartered planes don’t usually have the same secure doors as airliners) … just enough that they missed an important radio call or failed to notice another nearby airplane? If you were on an airliner headed for Newark or LaGuardia, how would you feel knowing the guys in some nearby business jet are loopy? Or imagine if the airplane had slid off the runway during landing, or sailed through the airport fence because the crew wasn’t really in control? The profit the charter company made carrying the Bieber entourage would not even cover the attorney’s fees in a lawsuit.
The flight attendant on the flight said she’d never fly with these passengers again, and good for her. The charter company should never carry the Bieber entourage again, either, because these people don’t belong in an airplane where they can hurt someone else.
Most captains I know would have put the safety of the crew, the passengers and the people on the ground above everything else. Should any company fly Bieber after this? I hope not, but a wealthy pop star usually gets his way.
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The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Robert P. Mark.