March 1, 2013 at 9:11 AM ET
Members of a college Ultimate Frisbee team under investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration for doing the “Harlem Shake’’ on a plane told TODAY that flight attendants gave them permission to dance.
“(The flight attendants) were genuinely very excited,’’ sophomore team member Matt Zelin, a student a Colorado College, said Friday. “Before we did anything really, we were making sure we were checking in with the flight crew, (and) making sure everything was approved by them beforehand. We actually only interacted with the flight attendants. I interacted with them from the moment I stepped on the plane.
“I don’t actually know if they were checking in with the pilot. I would assume so — it is his flight — but I really can’t speak for him.’’
Zelin filmed the clip with a handheld camera on the San Diego-bound Frontier Airlines flight on Feb. 15. The video has more than 430,000 views on YouTube and has joined the legions of viral “Harlem Shake’’ versions.
Matt Lauer asked if they had concerns about blocking aisles in case of an in-flight emergency. The team members said they cleared the stunt with fellow passengers.
“We talked to the flight attendants the whole time, and we were really aware of whatever they were telling us was OK and what they were telling us wasn’t OK,’’ team co-captain Conor Crowley said. “Since they were saying everything was a go, we weren’t really aware of that.’’
“For us, it was never about anything more than having fun, and we were in constant contact with the flight attendants,’’ said team co-captain Gavin Nachbar. “We were really talking to everybody. As a team, we were spread out across the whole plane in contact with everyone that was around us. We really were in touch with everybody so if something was going wrong with someone, we would’ve been ready for it.
“The flight attendants were in on this. It wasn’t the kind of thing that it was just happening. We really were aware of everybody on the plane.’’
“We have a policy not to comment on things that are under investigation by the FAA, but I can tell you that all safety measures were followed and the seatbelt sign was off,’’ Frontier Airlines wrote in an email to NBC News.
While the video makes it look like the whole plane is shaking wildly, the team said that was Zelin’s camera work, not actual turbulence.
“The video looks super shaky,’’ Crowley said. “Matt’s holding a handheld camera, so he’s not really doing a great job of holding it in place.’’
Despite triggering the FAA investigation, the students feel they did nothing wrong.
“We really were being safe the whole time,’’ Crowley said. “It wasn’t about anything else than having fun on the way to one of our really important tournaments this year. No regrets.’’