Have Safety Videos Gone Too Far With Entertainment Value?

Veteran model Christie Brinkley — the person on the right, like I needed to tell you that — appears in the latest safety video by Air New Zealand; and it is not just women being “exploited” and “objectified”, as some supporters of a petition on the Internet allege. Photograph courtesy of Air New Zealand. Click on the photograph to access the official Internet web site of Air New Zealand.

There was a time when you had to sit through a live safety presentation by flight attendants who commanded your attention to demonstrate to you such safety procedures as buckling your seat belt; what to do should the oxygen masks fall from the ceiling compartments above your head; and note where the emergency lights and exits are located within the aircraft.

I wonder if flight attendants sometimes felt like stand-up comedians at a seedy dive nightclub during their performance when noticing that the majority of passengers seemed to be ignoring information which could save their lives in the event of an emergency. Why are they not paying attention? Is it because they will most likely not be tested later on what they saw? Who needs seat belts, anyway?

Perhaps the main reason is that safety presentations are usually — well — boring. The same information is repeated again and again, over and over, ad nauseum as per the regulations of the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States and other governmental regulatory agencies worldwide; and yet — oddly enough — many people could not accurately recite the entire safety demonstration, as witnessed by FlyerTalk members at the Road Warrior Training portion of the 2010 Delta Air Lines FlyerTalk Event. It is difficult enough to watch the same episode of a favorite television program or movie repeatedly; so to expect passengers not to feign interest in safety presentations is an exercise in futility with too much emphasis beyond realistic expectations, to say the least.

However, the advent of technology deemed it possible to relieve flight attendants of performing safety presentations by instead recording them once in a studio or facility somewhere and playing them prior to takeoff on every flight thereafter…

…and thus, the safety video was born.

Ironically, it did not alleviate the repetitiveness; but rather seemed to exacerbate it: not only was the message exactly the same; but also the people presenting the message was exactly the same as well. It may as well have been a new method of torture, as even the flight attendants seemed bored during the playing of the safety video.

Airlines then started getting creative with the production of safety videos by inserting bits of entertainment in them in the hopes of retaining attention longer from more passengers aboard the aircraft. Insert levity here; promote brevity there, and voilà: here is a more interesting safety video

…and while I became rather tired of the safety video by Delta Air Lines shown above — now long retired by the airline — it contains just the right mix of levity and brevity while still effectively communicating important information which passengers need to know in the event of an emergency, in my humble opinion.

However — with the increasing trend towards providing more entertainment value — have safety videos lost their focus even though they technically still contain the required information as mandated by government regulatory agencies?

The latest safety video offered by Air New Zealand could be an example of entertainment gone too far: while I have no objection whatsoever to the video, it has generated quite a bit of controversy as evidenced by this petition:

I do not believe there is any sexual exploitation in the safety video above; nor am I offended in any way whatsoever by what is shown in the video. Truth be told, I am more repulsed by seeing someone’s foot spilling out of her — or, more appropriately to me, his — “flip flop” or sandal.

As a creative person, I do like and encourage the idea of airlines attempting to “spice up” what is typically a bland and repetitive message. Due to some passengers afflicted with pteromerhanophobia — or fear of flight — the airline cannot show a safety video with a recreation of an actual emergency unfolding. Heck — they do not even use the word turbulence anymore: “We are experiencing rough air.” Rough air?!? Please…

…but imagine what a great blockbuster horror movie to which a safety video can aspire — if a video can aspire. Twisted metal, fire, injured people: this is what could happen to you if you do not follow the safety instructions in the unlikely event of an emergency. “Help me put on my oxygen mask first, Daddy!!! I don’t want to die!” shrieks a young child, to which the father replies while struggling: “Son…I must…put on…(gasp)…my…oxygen mask…first…so that…I (wheeze)…can help you…” We are talking potential Academy Award material here.

Gee — I do not want to be burnt to a crisp or have my body fly out to right field like a baseball if anything happened. You bet I will buckle my seat belt!

Alas, the airlines must be sensitive to all of its passengers and not try to invoke fear. I guess I understand it and then again I do not: I would have no problem watching an airline disaster movie while in flight — I suppose I am weird that way…

…but I would go crazy being subject to what I perceive as inane safety videos such as these shown below — and if for some reason the safety videos do not appear below, the links to the safety videos have been provided:

El Al safety video 2014:

Virgin America safety video 2013:

I have a really difficult time paying attention to the two safety videos above. Give me my apocalyptic aviation epic any day. I will even give my full attention to a flight attendant giving a live encore performance of the safety demonstration rather than be forced to watch whatever that dreck — solely my opinion, I know — is shown in the safety videos above.

Please let me know what are your thoughts about safety videos in the Comments section below. Meanwhile, please pass the popcorn…

Comments (Showing 11 of 11)

  • Radiant Flyer at 10:49pm July 11, 2014

    What do you do… produce a safety video the passengers will watch over and over again.. or one that everyone falls asleep watching.

    The Delta Video will most likely get little attention, and soon to be forgotten… the other 3 will retain the most viewers… and be talked about and remembered.

    I wish the I”m so offended crowd would crawl under a rock and stop making life so boring and dull.

    Kudos to Virgin America, Air New Zealand and EL AL… thanks for the laugh, the smile and will enjoy watching it over and over again. Air New Zealand Safety Video was well done… entertaining and got the message across!!!

    • Brian Cohen at 9:00am July 12, 2014

      “What do you do?” Well, I was going to respond that you cannot please everyone, Radiant Flyer — and, of course, that is true…

      …but then my mind — I did say in the article that I suppose that I am weird — thought: why not have a choice of safety videos in the in-flight entertainment system for the passenger to be required to watch? Perhaps that would avert the scenario which alphaod imparted here in the Comments section about the experience of watching a safety video as a passenger aboard an airplane operated by Air China.

      I know, I know…the logistics and logic are both flawed…but I have always believed in brainstorming through flawed ideas towards potentially developing a good idea…

  • alphaod at 11:53pm July 11, 2014

    I fly Air China a lot, and they use the same safety video for all their planes. Their video is filmed on a B747, but a lot of times I’m flying on the B738 or the A319.

    Seats don’t match, doors don’t even look the same. It’s just hilarious looking at this every time; it’s like they don’t even care.

    I wish they made something more up to date and entertaining.

  • […] about sufficient controversy to warrant the airline to take away it from its fleet of plane… The Gate Entertainment gone Safety value Videos 2014-07-12 […]

  • RollingStoneRolling at 9:37am July 13, 2014

    I loved those videos and I actually made an account just to say that I lauger throughout each one. I always pay attention during the videos and old school demonstrations regardless of time of day, number of times I’ve flown, or style of presentation. Those 4 minutes could save multiple or even just one life – if they can switch it up now and then with a fun song or humorous skits then why not? Creativity and entertainment when you least expect it is always appreciated.

    • Brian Cohen at 11:21am July 13, 2014

      Would you mind if I said that I was flattered that you became a FlyerTalk member solely to respond to the article, RollingStoneRolling? Thank you!

      As I said, I am not necessarily against the creativity and the entertainment value — especially if it works as intended. However, there was a famous commercial back in the 1980s where an elderly woman barked “Where’s the Beef?” Many people have said that that was a wildly successful commercial; but there are people who were entertained by it and yet do not know for which company that commercial was advertising, which defeats the entire purpose of that commercial — and a similar concern could potentially and possibly be said for the latest crop of airline safety videos.

      By the way, that commercial worked on me, as I know for which company it advertised — even though I have never patronized that company, so I guess it did not work after all — but can you remember the name of the company behind that commercial without the assistance of the Internet?

  • dtremit at 7:01pm July 13, 2014

    It’s worth noting that the El Al video appears to be a parody of a viral music video by an Israeli band (“D.I.S.C.O.” by TYP). So it’s probably a little less nonsensical to the intended audience.

    • Brian Cohen at 8:15pm July 13, 2014

      I learn something new every day.

      Thank you for pointing out that information, dtremit.

  • Steve_in_VA at 8:55am July 14, 2014

    The best I’ve seen was on Eva Airlines. It’s done with cartoon figures and it’s hilarious and entertaining. You definitely watch it and pay attention!

  • BJM at 9:48pm July 14, 2014

    ” I would have no problem watching an airline disaster movie while in flight — I suppose I am weird that way”

    Virgin Atlantic in October 2013 had the movie ‘Flight’ available as one of the on demand selections. IK,R?!

    Does anyone remember the Air New Zealand ‘Bare Essentials’ safety video?

Leave Reply

You must be a logged in member to post a comment. Click here to Register.