Harlem Shake On A Plane: FAA Not Getting Down With It

harlem shake FAA

A Harlem Shake on a plane may seem like the suggested sequel to the popular Samuel L. Jackson film that captivated the internet much like the distinctive dance meme — but the Federal Aviation Administration was not nearly as impressed, brah.

The Harlem Shake FAA controversy started when (as memes and viral trends tend to) someone had the bright idea to take the craze to new heights. In this case, literally.

And thus the Harlem Shake caught the attention of the FAA — when a clip of passengers Harlem Shake-ing to the iconic song aboard Frontier Airlines Flight 157 garnered more than 600,00 views, and we assume, federal authorities among them.

To their possible credit, the FAA may not be out to harsh your Harlem Shake buzz — former agents explain how while the Harlem Shake on a plane is certainly cute and looks like harmless fun, it’s still a bit risky for reasons that they get the big bucks to recognize.

Steve Wallace, former director of the FAA’s Office of Accident Investigation, expressed adorably genuine remorse when opining that the Harlem Shake is not a great idea in-flight, saying to CNN:

“I hate to be a bureaucratic kill-joy … 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.”

Wallace also posited the situation could be used as a “ruse for terrorists,” and that flight security could be complicated by Harlem Shake clips in the future. The retired FAA investigator noted it would be “confusing for an air marshal.”

Jim Tilmon was a pilot for nearly three decades before retiring, and he has a less charitable view of those that arrange a Harlem Shake on airplanes. He complains:

“It’s ridiculous … A commercial airplane in flight … is not a dance hall, it’s not an entertainment stage, it’s not any of those things … It’s cute, novel, all that sort of stuff. Wrong place, wrong time.”

To which we say, “but Captain! There was a banana suit.”

Tilman wasn’t swayed by assurances from Frontier that safety procedures were properly observed, and he sniffed:


“If I was king for a day, the criticism would first be leveled at the airline for encouraging this type of thing … It may seem cute but you cannot tell me it is safe to have that number of people up out of their seat jumping up and down.”

He adds:

“If they’re on my airplane, they’re going to either sit down and fasten their seat belt, or I’m going to find a policeman to help them do it.”

Do you think the FAA should ban the Harlem Shake on planes?