“Football” fans were thrilled last June when BMI announced that it would be introducing live streaming of matches on select flights in the near future. After some delay, the inaugural football flight finally took place last Monday on a London to Moscow flight showing the Arsenal vs. Newcastle match.
The airline went to great lengths to “football-ify” the flight, revamping the entire menu to resemble stadium cuisine and dramatically increasing the price of beer. They even installed urinals with those little goals and soccer balls. Fans of both teams bought tickets for the flight well in advance, excited to be among the first to ever watch a live match at such an altitude.
Shortly before boarding, the gate area was a sea of red and black and white, and there were already some hints of trouble when the groups had to be separated after one Arsenal fan allegedly called the Newcastle players “a bunch of wankers.” After a rowdy, unorganized boarding process, the flight was finally underway and the match began shortly after takeoff.
Approximately forty minutes into the flight there was an uproar amongst the Newcastle fans over what they viewed as an incorrect offsides call. The fans were further riled when the captain, apparently an Arsenal fan, came on the intercom and requested that the Newcastle fans “keep [their] seat-belts fastened and stop acting like a bunch of batty boys.” The A320 also reportedly did a barrel roll each time Arsenal scored a goal. When a group of Newcastle fans attempted to storm the cockpit in response, Arsenal fans jumped in and a full scale mob brawl broke out on board. The flight was rerouted and landed safely in Amsterdam.
As a result of the flight’s difficulties, BMI immediately cancelled all future football broadcasts, though most fans disagreed with the move. “The match seemed pretty normal to me,” said Arsenal fan Chris Portney, “I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about.” Newcastle went on to lose the match 2 to 1, but the real losers were sports fans everywhere, as the incident seems likely to deter airlines from showing live events on board in the future, except of course golf, which numerous airlines already use to help passengers get to sleep.
This is why we can’t have nice things.