Air Force!

The Independent (London, England), November 2, 2007 | Go to article overview
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Air Force!

Flying brings out the worst in the rich and famous. As Jonathan Rhys Meyers is charged with being drunk at Dublin airport, Amol Rajan fastens his seatbelt and recalls the celebrities who made themselves the in-flight entertainment

High and mighty

Courtney Love

In February 2003, Love - the troubled widow of the Nirvana singer Kurt Cobain - was feeling a little restless on board a Virgin Airlines flight from Los Angeles to London. Seated next to two personal assistants and a nurse, she asked if her second nurse, who was sitting in economy class, could join her in business class. Alas, with the plane about to descend towards Heathrow, the former lead singer of the US rock group Hole had chosen a bad time to change her seating arrangements. When the cabin crew told her that the nurse could not join her, Love went "berserk", becoming verbally abusive and screaming and swearing at staff and passengers. Once the plane landed it was boarded by police, who spoke to the rocker for 20 minutes before bundling her into a van and interrogating her for a further 11 hours.


In April 1982, gallery owner Larry Gagosian paid for American painter Jean-Michel Basquiat, a notorious party animal, to fly first class from New York to Los Angeles for an exhibition. Gagosian picks up the story: "It was like these four kind of rough-looking black kids hunched over a big pile of coke and then they just switched over to these huge joints. They had their big ski-glasses on, and big overcoats. The stewardess freaked. I thought 'Oh God, we're going to jail'". But when the stewardess protested that such behaviour was, actually illegal, Basquiat's retort was as polite as it was firm. "I thought this was first class ..." he said. Basquiat died of a drug overdose six years later.



Rap stars never travel light - or alone. When Snoop Dogg, aka Cordozar Calvin Broadus - probably one of the most celebrated American rappers and record producers of his generation - headed for South Africa from Heathrow in April of last year, he brought along 30 of his home boys. They, in turn, brought along their attitudes.

Refused entry into the first-class lounge because of their loutishness, the posse took out their rage out on staff at a duty- free shop, allegedly hurling bottles of whisky across the shop floor. But when they were told that unless they grew up they would not be allowed to board their plane, the rapper's minders blew their casket. Police were called to Terminal One to deal with the problem. They demanded that Snoop and his crew calm down. They didn't. Instead, they went "berserk". One of the rapper's home boys left a policeman with a fractured wrist, while several others had cuts or bruises.

Snoop and five of his men were arrested on charges of violent disorder and affray and spent the night behind bars.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers

The 30-year-old Irishman appears to be struggling to leave behind his heavy drinking, loud-mouthed persona as the young Henry VIII in the BBC serial The Tudors. Following an appearance on an Irish talk- show at the weekend to promote his new film, August Rush, Rhys Meyers staggered into Dublin airport, apparently having had a few too many post-broadcast tipples. After being less than polite to check-in staff, he was barred from boarding a London-bound BMI flight.

Rhys Meyers, who spent four weeks at a drying-out clinic in California earlier this year, then refused requests from airport security to calm down. They eventually called the police, who charged the actor with being drunk in public and breaching the peace. He is due in court on 5 December.



The former footballer turned Hollywood actor was sentenced to 80 hours' community service and fined 1,100 in 2003 for an act of mid- air aggression which, even by his standards, takes some beating.

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