Influencer sparks controversy over airplane prank: 'Hope you're arrested and charged with fraud'

A popular social media personality has sparked debate over a recent prank he pulled on an airplane. 

Last Wednesday, Jamie Zhu, a Sydney native, posted a 3-minute video of himself attempting to switch from an economy-class seat to a business-class seat on a Cathay Pacific flight. 

"I've just got to the airport, and I've got a very long international flight ahead of me," he says at the beginning of the clip. "I've thought of an idea where I might be able to get a business-class flight for free. I really hope this works."

Zhu then walks into an Amcal Express, a pharmacy, at an unidentified airport and asks for a moon boot. 

"I broke my ankle recently," he explains to a sales associate. 

Upon receiving one, Zhu puts it on his right foot and plays around with it before he boards his flight. He then tries to fit the boot between his seat and the one in front of his, before asking a flight attendant to be moved to a different seat. The attendant says she needs to get clearance from her supervisor.

"My boot won't fit in here," he tells the supervisor. "I've got a broken ankle."

The video then cuts to Zhu sitting in business class, clearly ecstatic that he's managed to pull his prank off. He takes his boot off and shows off all the amenities that he receives in his section. 

"No, but seriously, guys, I had an amazing eight-hour sleep. I just woke up. How was your sleep? Was it good?" he asks the cameraman, who plays along. 

Zhu ends the clip by walking off without the boot, as a worker wishes him a speedy recovery. 

"Thank you," the worker says. "I hope your ankle gets better." 

"Oh yeah, I forgot about that," Zhu jokes.

The video, which has received over 75,000 views as of Tuesday, drew criticism from fellow YouTube users. 

"Hope you're arrested and charged with fraud," one person wrote. "It's people like you that make the lives of honest people more difficult. Scumbag."

"Jamie, what have you done?" another asked. "This is a big NO NO. I feel sorry for people that have real health issues, because for sure, airlines will be stricter, and they won't give the kind of treatment they gave you because of what you did."

In an interview with Insider, Zhu defended himself, claiming many of his followers called it a "cheeky, clever, and lighthearted prank to play." 

"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," he said. 

Zhu, a known prankster, previously made headlines in 2015, when he pretended to watch an adult film during a lecture at the University of New South Wales. 

"I love making funny videos and entertaining people," he told the Daily Mail. "I especially love creating awkward situations and watching people's reaction to them."