Andreas Eskander is a YouTuber; Jerome Feujio is a Team Canada boxer; Vanessa Sicotte is studying to become a pilot; and Julian Jalbert works in construction. They don’t know each other, but on December 30, they all met at Pierre Elliott Trudeau Airport in Montreal, Canada, joining a group of just over 130 other people on the trip of a lifetime.
The group – a mix of regular people and a who’s who of influencers and reality stars from Quebec, including several recent contestants to the popular French dating show Double occupation – were all members of 111 Private Club, an invitation-only social club. That afternoon, they boarded a Sunwing Airlines chartered flight to Tulum, Mexico, where they planned to party in the sun and celebrate the New Years until they returned on the 5th. January.
“I was really excited,” says Eskander, 23. ” Who would not be ? Take a private plane with your friends, go to the beach.
“I was DJing on the plane, creating a vibe,” says ATL Jacob, a producer who was on the trip. “I played house music, and of course Super Gremlin, me and the Kodak Black song. We are number one in the world right now. He says he thought everyone enjoyed his set, even the flight attendants. “They were vibrating and dancing as they served food and drink.”
In Mexico, the 111 members of the Private Club – led by its founder, James William Awad – explored the Yucatan and the Riviera Maya, went swimming in a cave, took a boat to Isla Mujeres and attended the Zamna festival. “They were open bars and VIPs,” says Jalbert, 27. “It was a really fun time.”
“I’ve been to these kinds of events and they’re always so disorganized,” Eskander says. “I can honestly say it was the most organized. Everything went well.
It suddenly came to a halt on January 4, when a video showing the passengers partying on the plane was posted by @od_scoop, a Quebec Instagram account devoted to gossip about Double occupation. “It’s a reality show where people travel to earn the love of their lives,” Jalbert explains. “OD Scoop exposed people [on the plane] of this show first, then the shit exploded.
The video shows the airplane aisle crowded with people, unmasked and dancing, assaulting for the camera. A woman, her mask under her chin, brandishes a fifth of Gray Goose, another, Sicotte, takes a long shot on a vape and lets out a plume of smoke. As lockdowns were restored across the country, the mile-high party plane was seen brazenly flouting the rules.
The flashback was rapid. On January 5, it was front page of most Canadian media, with only four articles in the Globe & Mail. That night he had made his way into Jimmy Fallon’s monologue. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau called them “a gang without designs(Which roughly translates to “idiots”) and called their actions a “slap in the face” for anyone who obeys public health restrictions.
Understandably, those on the plane felt left out – they had undergone all required due diligence, including presentation of proof of vaccination (as required on all departing flights. Canada). “This is all based on something that started on an Instagram meme,” says Feujio, 24. “It’s just for the drama.“ According to several people on the trip, the flight attendants did not ask them to change their behavior during the plane ride. ”Although we encountered turbulence and they advised us to get back to our seats and put on our seat belts, which some people didn’t do right away, I have to admit, “said Sicotte, 27.” There was no friction, “says Frank Balaguer III, director of Awad. “They were selling us alcohol. It was like it was just an ordinary private jet. (Sunwing did not respond to a request for comment on the ‘interaction of passengers and crew during the flight.)
On January 5, Sunwing announced the cancellation of the group’s return flight. The airline issued a statement saying the decision was “based on the group’s refusal to agree to all the terms and our safety team’s assessment that the non-compliance is likely based on their disruptive behavior on board.” .
“James did not refuse their requests,” Balaguer says. “They canceled it of their own accord.”
It is a sensitive period in Canada, and across the world, with Omicron recalling too recent freedoms, and the return of modified curfews and blockades across the country. People were angry with what appeared to be a gang of authorized influencers gone mad. The sensational titles added sizzle and the pile began. Air Canada and Air Transat have announced that they will deny access to parties attempting to book return flights. Transport Canada, the country’s government authority on airlines, has launched an investigation and said passengers could be fined up to $ 5,000 per violation.
Online accounts have sprung up dedicated to track down influencers and expose their identities. No one has come under more scrutiny than band frontman James Awad, 28, the man behind 111 Private Club. He founded the club last July, organizing parties around Montreal. It was the first international trip.
Some of the reviews have focused on transgressions in his past: in 2015 he was fined for acting as an unlicensed investment broker after “allegedly approaching people through his Facebook page, identified himself on behalf of KJRVS Inc. and claimed to have have a unique investment system, ”according to the Canadian Financial Markets Authority. (He calls it a mistake he made at age 22, adding that he only had to pay CAD $ 2,000.) He changed his name from Kevin to James William Awad in 2019. “James got me. said he had changed his name to sound like James Bond, ”Balaguer says. “His life is crazy.
The same year, he began to rap under the name of Senior. Last summer Awad and Balaguer met at Roll hard in Miami, and after listening to his music, Balaguer offered to book it at Mr. Jones, a local nightclub. In less than a week, Balaguer says, they were talking to Rick Ross: “James told me when he was younger he built a video game that made his first million. He told this story to Rick Ross during a concert in Vendôme. He killed her. The whole club thought he had killed him. This allowed us to meet Rick Ross and have him participate in a feature film for Senior. Footage from that night, including Ross and his entourage, can be seen in clips from the Senior song video “Scenes” on YouTube, a shiny and expensive clip with nearly half a million views. (A rep for Ross has confirmed that he appeared on one of Senior’s songs.)
Although he is still a rapper, Awad seems to have already amassed a small fortune. Balaguer speaks to his friend, noting that he lives in a mansion on a hill, looking at the houses he has bought for his friends and family. (He has bought 11 properties in the past four years, according to a survey by the Montreal Journal, totaling over $ 17 million.) Balaguer provided Rolling stone two videos of his last visit to the Awad estate north of Montreal, showing a large stone mansion with turrets under construction. You can see a limousine with the 111 logo. “I’m building a castle,” Awad says. Rolling stone. “I want it to be similar to the Edward Scissorshands movie.” He mentions that his car collection includes a white Lamborghini Aventador SVJ, a square Brabus 4 × 4 and a Rolls Royce Phantom.
ATL Jacob was visiting Awad in Montreal prior to the flight to Mexico. “His castle jester, he’s got a cave down there with a tunnel,” Jacob said. “I told him he reminded me of Batman because he had to put codes to enter the tunnel. At the end of the alley he had four or five houses, he turned one into a studio.
While the Awad does not seem to run out of funds, most of the people who joined him on the flight to Tulum cannot say the same. For many of them, their lives have been turned upside down. While Awad offers to reimburse all of his guests for the expenses caused by this debacle, there are a few things that he cannot fix.
Eskander says he has received Instagram messages targeting his 10-year-old brother. “People are saying how they’re going to teach him to do things with his mouth,” he says.
“Some girls were crying,” says Balaguer, who has received death threats. “Every message they get is hate.”
Vanessa Sicotte, the aspiring pilot seen in the video releasing a plume of vape smoke, has become the face of the incident. She has since been denounced by the community of pilots to the Montreal press and her future as a pilot could be in danger. “I received at least a thousand (messages), insults on my character, my family, death threats,” she says. Rolling stone in an email from Cancun. “People are happy that I’m losing my career and everything I’ve worked for. I have received hatred from all over the world, in languages that I do not speak. The hatred is just out of hand.
Two other passengers lost their jobs on their return. Feujio is concerned about his position with Team Canada. “Boxing is my life. It’s my job. This is my everything.
According to Awad, twenty-five of his guests are still in quarantine in Mexico. Sicotte and Feujio are back in Montreal. Eskander is in Arizona with friends. Julian Jalbert, who claims to be fully vaccinated, returned to Montreal on Saturday evening. He says he and a few other members of the group were held for three hours at the airport before being allowed to return home. Their passports have not been suspended. “Transport Canada told us that the people in the videos might be in more trouble than us,” he says. “I’m waiting for a phone call with them to find out more about what really happened on the plane. They were really sweet.
Jalbert intended to return to his construction job on January 11. “The police were right at my door to confirm that I was in quarantine,” he said. Authorities ordered him to stay at home until he received clear results from his last PCR test. He tries to stay optimistic. He’s not an influencer, multimillion-dollar aspiring rapper, or reality TV star. He pours concrete and lays foundations, and does it in cold weather. He has to get back to work.