Is It Rude to Ignore the Safety Demo?

Airplane seatbelt and non smoking sign

I really like this question, and I’ve been doubly inspired to address it this week.

First I spied this Flyertalk discussion, started by AlwaysFly. He reported visiting client offices in the UK where he had to watch a safety video and answer questions about it before being permitted to enter. “Should this be done on aircraft?” he mused.

That’s an interesting thought, but first let me say how much I love the rest of his comment. He says, “It winds me up the number of frequent and more worrying infrequent fliers who chose to be rude to cabin crew and dangerous to others by talking and reading newspapers while the safety briefing is taking place.“

Why do I love it? Because, what an awesome passenger! Thinking of both politeness to the crew and the safety of his fellow passengers as a whole? It kind of makes my day! Perhaps it sounds pathetic that that tickles me so, but I don’t actually hear those sorts of attitudes expressed by passengers too often. I’m not claiming everybody is terrible. Most people are fine. But I really do put a lot of effort into giving my passengers a pleasant flight, and it really warms me when I hear open thoughtfulness back. So, thank you, AlwaysFly– and anyone who has also wondered, or asked me, if it’s rude to ignore the safety demo!

On that note, however, I’d say you can rest easy. Personally, I’m not offended if you don’t watch my demo. It’s a bit awkward to stand there with strangers staring at me while I “preform” tasks they’ve seen 1000 times. It’s no big deal, but I don’t know anyone who “likes” doing it unless they have a real show they like to put on. Maybe SouthWest stews enjoy the heck out of it! But my crowd doesn’t.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with the aircraft and/or aren’t a frequent flier, you really should pay attention. I’m not encouraging anyone to blow us off! But if you’re one who knows the safety info, I’m personally not insulted at all if you don’t watch me pretend to blow into the manual inflation tube of a life vest. In fact, when I’m a passenger I usually read my book (though I do try to notice if the crew member nearest me gives signs of desiring an attentive audience).

AlwaysFly said one more thing of note. He saw,  “… a couple making menu choices with a member of cabin crew standing next to them”. He’s right to think that shouldn’t be happening. Passengers have the choice to pay attention or not, but flight attendants shouldn’t be the ones distracting them. Tsk tsk.

Going back to the idea of quizzing fliers about the safety video, it’s not a bad idea, in a sense. Shorthauldad makes the important point that the statistical probability is obviously super low, but it may comfort some to know that in the event of a “planned emergency” (when we have notice that evacuation after landing may be necessary) we will give a more detailed safety review and ask questions. Training exercises confirm it as an invaluable practice.

I can’t imagine we’ll ever see that happening for the regular briefing, but thank goodness Captain Sullenberger’s famous “Miracle on the Husdon” landing played out differently than my second inspiration for today’s topic – the rather cute video below… 

…which I like for perfectly illustrating the only occasion when I would become really offended that you hadn’t listened.

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Comments (Showing 7 of 7)

  • harvyk at 6:36am July 18, 2014

    There are a couple of carriers I can recite their safety demo word for word (I also know that doing so is not a party trick which wins any friends). I know the exact location of every exit and the number of seats between me and that exit (often zero).

    That said, when the safety demo starts, off come the earphones, down goes the magazine. If nothing else having pax watch the demo shows the infrequent flyers that yes this is something serious to pay attention to. Besides it never hurts to have that mental reminder of the correct brace position for your seat, how exactly to fit an oxy mask, and the location and use of your life jacket. Since if the worst comes to the worst having that information fresh in your mind might be the difference between survival and dying. I think that’s a pretty good trade-off for 3 minutes of my time.

  • medichill at 2:50pm July 18, 2014

    It only takes two minutes or so out of my life to sit and pay attention even though I’ve seen it many times, so I take my head phones off, put my reading down and pay attention. Plus, it is has been proven over and over that “stuff happens”. I don’t really want to try and review the safety card at the very moment I need it!

  • Orion at 5:34pm July 18, 2014

    On a new aircraft/airline type I pay close attention to the demo. Otherwise, I am easily distracted from what I have heard a few hundred times before. But I never talk during the demo and I don’t like it when others do.

  • sandydeb at 6:09pm July 18, 2014

    Two thoughts:

    1) I have seen a LOT of flight attendants (especially on regionals) who could not be appear more disinterested in the safety presentation even if they tried. It usually involves some random hand waves and no synchronization between the narrative and the actions. So it goes both ways.

    2) I think a much better idea would be to repeat the safety instructions on loop at the gate. And let people actually handle a life vest and an oxygen mask at the gate. and may be even a mock door!

    I know the instructions by heart but I am not quite sure about what those things are like.

    The idea is to make everyone safe. Let’s do it!

  • SSteegar at 9:25pm July 18, 2014

    Again, always so nice to hear. You two, are awesome!

  • SSteegar at 9:28pm July 18, 2014

    Also: apologies that the video is not embedded. I’ll see about sorting that out right now!

  • NJFlyer42 at 12:09pm July 22, 2014

    Two comments:

    1. The safety video at an airline is surrounded by ads. Chemical plant safety videos are often poorly produced compared to airline videos. But it is obvious that the only point is safety. Often, you cannot even tell from the video what is being manufactured.

    For example, Exxon doesn’t try to sell gas and safetyin the video. They only sell safety. It is clear that they care about about it.

    2. Once on a regional jet I did a parody pantomine as the flight attendant did her demo. It was fun for both of us.

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