Shakes on a Plane: ‘Harlem Shake’ Joins the Mile-High Club
(ABC) — The latest incarnation of the “Harlem Shake” video fad recorded on board a Frontier Airlines flight now has the attention of federal investigators.
The video has been viewed more than 400,000 times on YouTube. It was recorded by members of the Colorado College Ultimate Frisbee Team on their way to a tournament in San Diego over President’s Day weekend.
A spokesman with the Federal Aviation Administration confirmed the agency has opened an investigation into the video, which starts with a signature lone dancer in the aisle of the plane. As the beat rises to a crescendo, most of the plane’s passengers appear to join the frenetic dance, including a guy dressed as a banana and another person wearing an Abraham Lincoln mask.
“Obviously, I hope that this whole situation is solved with the FAA,” said sophomore Matt Zelin, a team member who told the Colorado College student newspaper that he shot the video. “I don’t see there being any reason why this should cause any trouble. We asked the staff and they said it was safe.”
A federal official who did not want to be identified because of the ongoing investigation said the video “looks bad” — but as long as it wasn’t recorded as the plane was taking off or landing, then it probably isn’t a crime. If the video was recorded against the wishes of the Frontier flight attendants, however, the official said, the passengers could be charged with interfering with a flight crew.
Colorado College spokeswoman Leslie Weddell insisted that was not the case.
“[The students] definitely had permission from the flight crew,” Weddell told ABC News.
Citing the FAA investigation, Frontier Airlines spokeswoman Kate O’Malley would not comment on whether the flight crew was complicit in the making of the video, but told ABC News in a statement that “all safety measures were followed and the seatbelt sign was off.”
Aviation experts said the dancing likely had no affect on the structural integrity of the aircraft, which are built to endure severe turbulence.
“I don’t think there’s any concern structurally or when it comes to safety of flight,” said ABC News aviation consultant John Nance.
If the dancers had all moved to the front or rear of the plane simultaneously, Nance said, that could have created a weight and balance issue for the pilots in the cockpit, but not a problem that put the plane in danger of crashing.
“It’s nothing the flight crew or the aircraft can’t handle,” Nance said. “This gyrating around is of no consequence.”