Under the Influence

Before Queen, this was Freddie Mercury's day job

To pay tribute to the late, great Freddie Mercury on his birthday, British Airways staged a full-fledged airport performance to surprise travellers.
In this July 20, 1986 photo, Queen lead singer Freddie Mercury performs in Germany. (Marco Arndt/The Associated Press)

British Airways tapped into some nostalgia to coincide with the release of the film Bohemian Rhapsody.

The airline created a video titled "Get Freddie for Take-Off."

Before Freddie Mercury was Freddie Mercury, he was a British Airways baggage handler at Heathrow Airport. To pay tribute to Freddie on his birthday, nine British Airways baggage handlers took two weeks of choreography lessons.

As passengers waited for their luggage in Terminal 5, the baggage handlers burst through the doors, dressed in bright yellow jackets and white pants like Mercury wore in his famous Live Aid performance. And each baggage handler sported a Freddie Mercury moustache.

Then they began to dance to Queen's 1984 hit, I Want To Break Free.

Passengers watched these baggage handlers break free from their routines to perform Freddie Mercury-inspired dance moves. And every cell phone camera was pointed in their direction.

British Airways embraced the nostalgia, posting Queen songs on the Arrivals boards and Queen memorabilia was displayed in the departures area.

Best of all, any passengers named Freddie were invited to use the British Airways First Class lounge that day.

The nostalgia gave British Airways a lot of press and the video was viewed 1.8 million times.


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Under the Influence is recorded in the Terstream Mobile Recording studio, a 1969 Airstream trailer that's been restored and transformed into a studio on wheels. So host Terry O'Reilly can record the show wherever he goes.

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The Terstream Mobile Recording Studio. (Image Credit: Sidney O'Reilly)

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