Recently I’ve been thinking about some of the quirkiest aspects of flying. If you fly regularly on the same carrier it’s surprising how quickly these oddities stay in your mind and drive you a little bit around the bend.
The big superstar of airline oddities is that essential part of the beginning of every flight, the safety video. Safety Videos are a mandatory part of your flight. The subject matter is serious business.
When and at what point was the decision made that these should be reinvented and turned into something more “entertaining”? The majority of the new breed of safety videos cross a fine line and I am skeptical that all get the important messages across as they should.
The current trend is to present the video as a travelogue, taking you out of the plane and into an airlines host country or in locations around the world the airline flies to. A mini-movie, if you like, that attempts to make you take more interest in the regulations on each and every flight. With budgets reaching into the millions, one has to wonder how much research has truly gone into these.
Let’s take a look at some, from the kooky and odd to the downright annoying.
The current Qantas Safety Video is a travelogue filmed in International cities that the airline flies to. The budget must have been considerable. The duration is as well. At over seven agonizing minutes, this epic reel drags more that any safety video in recent memory.
Each segment is presented in various locations, with little stories of real Aussies being Aussies abroad, peppered with attempts at humour.
With Qantas regurgitating yet again their preferred and most mundane song “I Still Call Australia Home” which plays endlessly throughout the video, we are taken from Johannesburg to New York, Tokyo, Santiago, Shanghai and onwards.
But it’s when we get to London that the video really takes its toll. In a shamefully corny piece of acting, a female Australian Barista running a coffee cart on a busy London morning spots her two suited up Aussie regulars, and gives them a foxy greeting: “Hey Fellas…two flat whites?” The two respond “Yeah, double shots!” Coffee girl laughs hammily and says “Ah, had a big night last night?” (queue laughter). Everything about this sequence is as cringeworthy as it gets in its depiction of Australians.
It is so irritating that people can be heard reciting this as you sit on the plane. No-one recalls what part of the safety video was related to this sequence. Just the horrible, whiny voice of the fake barista and the cornball acting.
So ill-thought out was the logistics of this safety video, it plays as audio only on domestic flights where there are no pop-down screens. So then, we just have to LISTEN to the inane scenarios, which make no sense at all when there is no vision. The Qantas staff just have to stand there and wait until they can actually do something the old-fashioned way, like show you where the exits are or how to put on your seat belt.
Here we are presented with a travelogue through the beloved travel destinations of the airlines host country. We see the Heart of The Nation through the eyes of locals. Nowhere near as annoying as the Qantas video, what’s interesting about it is its similarity to it. There are moments that are closely identical. This was produced just prior to the Qantas one. The only real difference is that Qantas features its countryfolk abroad. Could Qantas have sparked their idea from this video?
Lavishly produced, languidly paced and exotic in its presentation, The SQ Video follows one glamourous Singapore Girl through sights of the airlines host city on an unusually perfect, clear day. Here guests in the video show us the brace position and the other elements of essential safety on board whilst under the eye of the wistful, ever-attentive Singapore Girl.
Luckily, the video is not annoying. With a lush music score, it really must be praised for not straying from the important safety pointers at hand. But God, is it long, running almost six minutes. After a few flights with SQ, you just want to give the Singapore Girl a little push, stop wandering around so slowly and please just get to the point!
Striking simply for it’s almost exact copying of the Singapore Airlines video, quite stunningly so. We follow the female airline crew around non-specific locations in Vietnam, their knowing eyes making sure everyone is maintaining safety. With a similar music score to the SQ video, the design of this simply had to be copied from that. It’s unnecessarily long at almost six minutes, but at least it’s factual and to the point…. mostly. But boy, this is a copycat video if ever I’ve seen one.
Suitably bizarre and exactly what you expect from a Japanese airline, the nutty safety video of All Nippon Airways is magnetically watchable. Here we watch the clumsy, comedic antics of an awkward Geisha and Kabuki performer aboard a non-descript jet. This draws a fine line between entertainment and getting the important messages across. For sure, upon first time viewing this, you are glued to the crazy goings on. I personally love the video for it’s pure, very Japanese entertainment value. At 4 minutes, it’s succinct and perfect.
AIR NEW ZEALAND
Here we go again. Let’s do another All Blacks rugby team safety video! Very conceptual in style and totally comedic, the production values are high and the editing exceptional. After an unconventional beginning which completely grabs your attention, the safety elements do cut through in this whilst keeping you entertained. It’s fun for sure and may well be the best safety video at the moment. It’s four minutes long, which after this examination, would appear to be the perfect duration for these videos.
There are plenty of other annoyances that become prominent when you’re a regular flyer. Everyone finds the standard head pursers boarding announcements dull, especially when delivered in the usual dull, monotone, robotic fashion. Have you noticed some new additions to the list of late?
Due to our obsessive preoccupation with our mobile phones, all airlines now announce that if you lose your “electronic device” between your seat, don’t move it (i.e: change the bed mode or angle of your seat in Business Class) as it could be destroyed in the mechanism. The panic in passenger’s eyes when this happens is something to behold. Often having to wait until the plane lands to get the device retrieved means a completely unbearable rest of the flight for these poor souls.
The other one, the really bizarre one, randomly thrown into the announcement mix, is “no passengers are permitted to sleep on the floor”. When did this become a thing? OK – I admit that I am very rarely on an overnight flight down the back in Economy, and this is no doubt the cabin where this announcement is aimed at. But who seriously, would do this? Sleeping in the aisle! Perhaps things have got a whole lot worse down back than I ever realized.
Finally, the odd choice of music an airline plays either upon arrival into the plane and often again upon landing. Qantas for a long time had to bombard us with the utterly painful “Feels Like Home” campaign, and that whiney, whingey song sung by Martha Marlow. Like clockwork, there it would be. One of those songs you just can’t get out of your head. For years – totally and absolutely unbearable.
ANA, one of my favourite airlines, isn’t perfect either in the music department. They play a song upon entering the plane and again upon arrival that was written especially for the airline. It’s very generic in tone, in that very Japanese almost childlike manner, and another that is impossible to leave your head once heard. It is wildly repetitive and appears to be loved by many, but for me it’s just too monotonous to be anything but annoying.
Philippine Airlines wins the musical prize, however. In a very mysterious turn, PAL chooses to play rather insipid, acoustic piano versions of Elton John’s greatest hits. And they do the artist no favours. One dimensional at best, one can only imagine why these are the airlines choice. Considering you can never hear the pilot when making his announcements, this music is played at excessive volume and can only be considered completely unnecessary.
Small quips for sure, all of the above. But a frequent traveler on a repeat carrier cannot help but notice these little things. I just wonder why they go unnoticed by so many.