Does 'Harlem Shake' on a Plane Fly With the FAA?

By Deanne Katz, Esq. on March 01, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

The "Harlem Shake" is happening everywhere -- in college dorms, libraries, on the street, and to the dismay of the Federal Aviation Administration, on a plane.

Students from Colorado College's Ultimate Frisbee team filmed a version of the popular dance video meme while on board a Frontier Airlines flight to San Diego. They even got the other passengers to participate in the fun, as shown in the video.

But it seems the FAA isn't enjoying the contribution to Internet humor. It's investigating the incident to make sure no rules were broken.

Before we go on, let's clarify what this "Harlem Shake" is. If you're unaware, it's an Internet meme that starts with one person dancing wildly, often wearing a helmet. After about 15 seconds, the music shifts and suddenly everyone is dancing. The whole video lasts less than a minute and every version includes the same music.

Here's the clip that got the FAA's attention:

The students claim that they asked permission from passengers and the flight crew before they began, reports Denver's KMGH-TV. They didn't think anything went wrong.

A Frontier Airlines spokeswoman also said that all safety measures were followed and that the seatbelt sign was off when the dance took place.

So why is the FAA investigating?

The agency oversees all federal regulations regarding airlines, including in-flight safety. Airlines are responsible for enforcing those rules when it comes to passenger movement in the cabin.

Failure to meet those regulations can result in a fine and potentially more significant punishments for an airline.

That's why they're so fussy about making you follow the rules. The airline could pay the price for not keeping the peace.

What the FAA really wants to know is where the plane was when the dancing started, reports USA Today.

Regulations require that passengers remain seated until the plane has reached a safe altitude. That's why the little seatbelt sign is always on for a while after take-off.

It doesn't appear that the students will be held responsible if the FAA doesn't like what they find. But the agency has banned future "Harlem Shake" videos from being filmed on planes while they're in the air.

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