My New Hobby: Airplane Safety Videos

Disclaimer: This is a pretty nerdy post.  If you’re not as nerdy, or it is not the most boring Tuesday of your career, maybe skip to the next one.

I’m not sure why, but somehow I’ve wound up making a little hobby out of the safety videos that airlines show on their flights. Maybe it’s that I’m a Sam Eagle and I feel like there might be some detail about the safety process that I’ve missed, and hopefully I’ll catch it this time. Or, maybe it’s because I’m literally part of a captive audience, so I may as well watch it anyway. Regardless of how you spin it, I watch so little TV or movies (moving pictures!) anymore that the safety videos make up a significant percentage of my video watching.

Anyway, there’s a lot of variety between the different airlines. American’s is very serious, but they gave each of probably fifty different people from different corners of aviation (pilots, flight attendants, baggage handlers, mechanics, etc) one line or demo for the safety brief, so it wins points for inclusion. It used to feature my favorite character in all of aviation. He’s a baggage handler, and he has one line and it is perfect: “Never inflate the vest inside the airplane.” He delivers it with the perfect tone, as if to say “because you’re a complete fool if you do, and you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself because if you’d listened to my one line in this whole video, you wouldn’t be in the trouble you’re in now.” It’s epic. Never has so much been conveyed in so few words.

This is the old version of the video.  American saw fit to take NITVITA Guy out of the video, and now I has a sad every time I fly with them.

Lately I’ve been flying a lot of Delta, and they take theirs as seriously as Southwest did before they became a grownup airline. I think the best way to describe it is, well, goofy. It’s dripping with hoke. I feel like I can’t do it justice if I explain it. It has a robot shutting itself off below 10000 feet. It has triplets in an exit row. It has a three-inch “smaller item” to put under the seat in front.  There are references to old Delta videos as well, so overall it feels like the “Spot What’s Wrong with this Picture” game in the kids’ section of the Sunday comics.

I hadn’t noticed until this weekend that – probably because I’m almost always on an MD-90 – Delta’s video for each type of plane is different. I couldn’t find it online, but for the A330, the flight attendant changes clothes and accessories each time the shot comes back to her. The CEO makes an appearance as well, to let you know that Delta’s “got your back”. Okay, so if I ever get in a bar fight I know Delta’s on my side. Terrific.

Then there are airlines that had their high school intern do the video. I’m looking at you, LAN. Your video sucks. If you’re going to do CG, make it look like it was made in this century. Seriously.

I think my favorite for best overall motif is Alitalia’s; they have an animated video themed like 2-dimensional props that fall in and out of the frame, and the guy’s accent is amazing. It’s got a lot of Italian style to it. I love it. However, it’s really long because they say everything twice, and it’s not funny either.  I guess the Italians take it more seriously.

Anyway, I think I like the trend of safety videos versus safety demonstrations, because there’s so much more room for differentiation between the airlines.  When the flight attendants do it, they rush through as quickly as possible and the parts you can understand all sound the same.  Also, the videos free up the flight attendants for great magic galley conversations.

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