"[It's] fricking crazy. I am losing my sh--. I'm sure everyone else is too," said purple-haired Sydney, Australia, DJ/blogger Claire "Fingertips" Knight, 25, about her spot on Rihanna's 777 Tour. She still can't believe she's on the plane, which is taking 200 fans and journalists on a seven-country, seven-day tour around the world to celebrate the singer's upcoming seventh album. "There's media and fans from around the world and Rihanna herself, of course."
After her initial foray back into the main cabin on Wednesday to dispense champagne and cognac to the passengers, Rihanna has treated her guests to the occasional walk through on day two. But any glimpse they get of her is enough to make them lose their minds, every single time.
Superfan Jonny Staub, 32, came fully prepared from Vancouver, Canada, sporting a DMND hat and nails blinged out with glittery, bejeweled polish. "Yeah, celebrate!" he said. "We're listening to her music and hanging out." To put it bluntly, Philadelphia fan Johnathan Marmolejos, 23, said, "It's berserk on this plane. It's a party plane."
And, before she cut off our interview abruptly when one of her favorite Unapologetic songs, "Nobodies Business," came on, Brooklyn's Janise Williams, 20, said she was "very, very, very, very excited to be on board."
Keying in on the pair of clearly hard-core Navy Admirals, Rihanna made a point of coming over to say hello to Williams and Marmolejos when the plane landed in Toronto on Thursday (November 15) morning, chatting with them as they all waited for their baggage.
And, yes, Rih Rih sightings have been sparse so far, but that hasn't kept the rowdy fans from keeping her in their hearts as they bullet through the sky from one show to the next. Thanks to a sound system set up in a walkway in the back of the plane, Unapologetic has been on constant booming replay. When the tunes come on die-hards dance and sing to their favorites, giving the trip a vibe that feels like a mix of summer camp and a red-carpet premiere.
The adventure has its own odor as well, a fruity, candy-like one, thanks to the bottles of Nude perfume included in the goodie bags everyone got at departure.
During the downtimes between shows, the journalists and fans have been mingling and getting to know each other, making connections, even as the professionals shoot video reports, interview Navy members and mill around in the aisles. Though Rihanna has made a few silly PA announcements to hype the crowd in the early going, the vibe is less cruise ship and more crazed vacation sprint. Long flights lead to buses to venues, then back to the plane then back to another airport, bus and so on, with a loud cheer every time the 777's wheels touch down.
The first leg of the trip, from Los Angeles to Mexico, also featured an A-list cabin crew that was really friendly, not to mention very attractive and well coifed. It almost felt like being on a Pan Am flight back in the 1960s, when flying was sexy and the crews on planes were glamorous. As it turns out, they are part of an elite team that were handpicked for the trip and they didn't even know what they were getting into before boarding.
And because you'd expect nothing less from Rihanna, the food on the flights so far has been top notch as well. When we first got on in Los Angeles there was a big spread on a cart with fresh wraps, fruit and cheese. And after the Mexico City show last night we were served an assortment of tamales and tacos before we got our regular airplane meal, which on Wednesday included four options, from beef au jus to a salad with shrimp, chicken and salmon. It's okay to be jealous, go ahead.
Rihanna has been encouraging everyone to enjoy free drinks on her, but nobody is hanging from the chandeliers just yet. There's still plenty of time, though.