One Australian influencer is putting his best foot forward and defending his decision to fake a broken ankle in hopes of receiving a flight upgrade during a recent trip with Cathay Pacific Airways. Though the man’s stunt was successful, his followers are divided over whether or not the ploy was ethical.
Last week, social media personality Jamie Zhu shared a three-minute video across his various platforms titled “How To Fly Business Class For FREE!” In the clip, Zhu bought a moon boot at Sydney Airport, put it on his right leg and boarded the flight, fooling Cathay Pacific flight attendants with the lie that he had a broken ankle and couldn’t fit in his economy class seat “at all” because of the large boot.
The footage then cut to Zhu giggling in the cushier business class digs. The influencer boldly removed the moon boot and propped up his legs, getting comfortable for the long-haul flight and enjoying the space’s complimentary food, drinks, TV and room to sleep.
“In all seriousness guys, I just had an amazing 8 hours of sleep,” Zhu later revealed. Meanwhile, the person filming behind the camera moaned that they only got about “8 minutes” of shut-eye.
Zhu was all smiles when he ultimately walked off the plane, sans boot for the faux injury.
“Thank you, I hope your ankle gets better,” a Cathay Pacific staffer said as he deplaned.
“Oh yeah, I forgot about that” he replied.
Though some of Zhu’s 1.1 million Instagram followers declared that he was a “genius” and “cool” for pulling off the trick, others on YouTube were more critical.
Some blasted Zhu’s actions as “reprehensible” and agreed that the airline should blacklist him or charge him for the fraudulent upgrade.
“Shame on you! My Daughter is a flight attendant and you are taking advantage of their good will to try and help those in need,” one said.
“Loser. I spent weeks in a boot for surgery. Disabilities are not something to prank about!!!” another exclaimed.
In response, Zhu told Insider that the majority of his followers thought the upgrade “prank” was “cheeky” and that he isn’t letting the critics bring him down.
"I have had a mixed response but most of my followers loved it and thought it was a cheeky, clever, and lighthearted prank to play," he said in an interview published Tuesday.
"I would say to these [crtitics] that I'm sure we have all tried to find a way to get something for free or for a discount and in this video I have done nothing but that," Zhu continued. "At the end of the day, my intentions for my videos are to make fun, lighthearted, and entertaining content and the video really showcased Cathay Pacific's high standard of customer service on their flights."
Furthermore, the influencer said the experiment was inspired by a real-life injury.
"I once broke my ankle back in high school from soccer and at the time was getting all this 'special treatment' from everyone, so I decided to put that theory to the test in the form of a flight!" he said.
Neither Zhu nor a spokesperson for Cathay Pacific Airways were immediately available to offer further comment.