Watch this barbershop quartet sing 'Under the Boardwalk' on a plane

A video of a barbershop quartet entertaining passengers aboard a delayed flight is taking off on YouTube. 

The barbershop quartet Port City Sound of Portland, Maine, lost a competition in New Orleans on Jan 7. But the singers appear to have won the Internet’s heart with the viral video of an impromptu concert aboard a US Airways flight.

“That gig [on the plane] was totally unplanned, but it was a lot of fun,” says Jim Simpson, 70, who was the bass voice those on the flight heard singing "Under the Boardwalk." “We’re certainly never shy about singing for people so when the stewardess asked us, well, we were happy to oblige.”

Simpson said that there were about 27 quartets in the BHS Midwinter Convention held there Jan. 6-11 competition which was for senior singers, “We represented the Northeastern District and came in about 25th in the bunch.”  

The competition requires each quartet’s age to exceed 240 years of age combined with no member being below 55 years-of-age. Simpson says, “We had that number beat handily!”

Simpson and the rest of the group were asked to sing when the flight was delayed. US Airways flight attendant Kari Mann decribes what happend in the video posted on YouTube:

“AFTER we had boarded (I'm a flight attendant). I started talking to the passengers and realized we had a barbershop quartet in our presence. I asked them to sing and most of the passengers began video taping! It was such a great moment... The mood changed and our passengers were awesome for the whole 5 hours they were on the plane! One of my favorite moments!!! Thank you to Port City Sound for creating a wonderful memory!!! #usairways”

According to Simpson, the flight was arranged via US Airways, but was in fact a commuter plane chartered from Republic Airways.

“I have no idea how that stewardess knew we were a quartet,” Simpson said. “That was some pretty sharp work on her part.”

This is far from the first time performers have been asked, out of the wild blue yonder, to help elevate the mood on a flight. It seems long flights and delays on the ground make aircraft prime venues for impromptu performances.

Here are six musical moments on the runway and some that create a whole new meaning for top billing (can you get any higher than 35,000 feet?).

  • On April 1, 2014 Australian cast member, Toni Stewart captured, an amazing impromptu Circle of Life performance on a flight from Brisbane to Sydney.
  • When a group from The Philadelphia Orchestra found itself delayed on the tarmac for three hours waiting for their flight from Beijing to Macao as part of the 2013 Residency & Fortieth Anniversary Tour of China, a quartet of musicians decided to provide a "pop up" performance for the passengers on June 7, 2013.
  • Even before the flight begins one flight attendant for Southwest Airlines turned the pre-flight safety and beverage lecture into a RAP on Jan. 6, 2010.
  • For the non-singer, another musical flight of fancy that’s become popular is the in-flight selfie lip-sync videos posted by bored passengers on long flights. A parody of A Great Big World's "Say Something" featuring Christina Aguilera aboard a Tigerair flight from Singapore to Hong Kong was posted to YouTube on Nov. 23, 2014.
  • This was followed Dec. 18, 2014 by a sequel featuring Walt Disney's Aladdin song with a rendition of 'A Whole New World' on an Emirates A380 between Singapore and Dubai.
  • Not all airborne performances are spur of the moment. Here’s a U.S. Air Force flight crew that has put out two videos on YouTube demonstrating how music keeps their spirits up, up, and away. 
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to

QR Code to Watch this barbershop quartet sing 'Under the Boardwalk' on a plane
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today