Jason Derulo claims he was cursed at by multiple American Airlines employees during a dispute over baggage fees, but says everyone’s tune changed once they found out he was famous.
Derulo tells PEOPLE he was flying from Miami to Los Angeles and checked in for his flight with his group and their luggage. He says there was a dispute about the timing of their check-in, so it was decided that one member of the group would stay behind and take the next flight in order to check all the luggage.
According to an airline source, the most elite passengers for American Airlines get three checked bags for free, but Derulo’s friend tried to check 19 bags, which led to an additional charge.
The singer says he was on the plane, getting ready to depart, when he received a call from his friend saying that American Airlines wanted to charge $4,000 for their bags. He explains, “We’d never paid for our bags because of our status—with all of our miles—so we’d never paid for bags. So $4,000 is obviously a huge sum. We were like, ‘No, we’re not paying that. We’ve got to turn the plane around.'”
In a statement to PEOPLE, American Airlines says Flight 275 “returned to the gate prior to departure. A passenger elected to deplane in order to travel with their checked bags. The passenger has been rebooked with his checked bags on a later flight this evening.”
Derulo claims that as he and his friends were disembarking, the captain came out and began cursing at them and ordering them off the plane. He says, “And that was really upsetting to me because I felt like he was trying to make it seem like we were delinquents, and he was kicking us off the plane, when it was us that asked to get off the plane. I was like, ‘Listen, sir, you’re not going to talk down to me; I’m not your son. Don’t talk to me in that tone of voice.'”
Derulo says when he got off the plane, he and his group were met by 15 police officers, which Derulo called “super embarrassing.” Derulo says at this point, another American Airlines staffer began cursing at him and that’s when Derulo decided to act.
“As you can imagine, I’m surrounded by 15 police officers, I’m not going to curse back because I know what’s going to happen,” he says. “So I pick up my phone, and I go live on my Instagram.”
“So I go live, and I start to hear whispers happening, and as soon as they find out who I am, everything changes,” Derulo claims. “Every single person becomes somebody else, and all of a sudden, we’re not in trouble anymore.”
The singer took to Instagram following the incident, where he described the ordeal as “racial discrimination.”
Derulo says he doesn’t plan on dropping the issue. “I just want everybody to be treated with respect. At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. I’m not asking for anything extra, I’m not asking to be taken care of.”
The police report filed by the Miami-Dade PD paints a slightly different picture. According to the report, an airline employee told police that Derulo and his group “smelled of marijuana and were getting aggressive” when they were checking in.
The report also states that Derulo and his group refused to give their IDs to airline staff when they departed the plane and initially refused to do the same with police.
No charges were filed and the case was closed.