Be honest: how many times have you paid attention to the in-flight safety demonstration, now a pre-recorded video, before take-off? Chances are, after a certain number of flights, the answer is: not that many.
The safety notifications may be dull, but they are important, and airlines are well aware most of us chat, read or sleep through them. Because of this, several are producing more captivating videos. Here are some of our selections of the most intriguing creations.
Air New Zealand:
Delta may have been first out of the gate but no one does air safety demos better than Air New Zealand. The singular Kiwi sense of humor has shone through all the carrier’s videos since they started getting creative, racking up millions of views online. From its all-body paint demo to the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit-inspired clips (featuring director Peter Jackson), ANZ has done more to illustrate the destination than any travel guide could. Currently, the airline is tipping its hat to the rugby-mad nation with its Air All Blacks boardroom demo, starring coach Steven Hansen, players Kieran Read, George Gregan and actor Rick Hoffman, loaded with rugby jokes and Kiwi pride. Kia ora, indeed.
Korean Air is riding the second Korean Wave with a safety demo woven into massively popular K-pop boy band SuperM’s Let’s Go Everywhere. The video is one part boy band choreography and glamour boy glitz, and one part sci-fi CGI, and when the boys aren’t crooning they’re bucking their seat belts, blowing into inflation tubes and watching all smoking products and devices get lasered out of existence. It’s playful and slick and shows the high-value export that is Korean popular culture. For good measure, singer BoA – one of South Korea’s first international crossover pop stars – lends her voice to the narration, warning us that our tray tables must be stowed for take-off and landing.
In 2017, the “world’s favorite airline” made consumers forget about its stunning 1989 television spot – the one with the human happy face – by focusing on creating a cheeky, informative and entirely, well, British safety video. Produced in collaboration with the charity Comic Relief, comedian Asim Chaudhry fronts a stark white background as the director auditioning Oscar nominees Chiwetel Ejiofor and Ian McKellen, Thandie Newton and Star Wars stalwart Warwick Davis among others for parts in the demo. Plus, the spot gets in a plug for dropping spare change into a Flying Start donation envelope. It’s another flawless production highlighting safety procedures, branding and showing who Britons are. Former The X-Files star Gillian Anderson shines as the too-serious actor that needs to “chill out”.
All Nippon Airways:
Traditional kabuki theatre is not something people associate with humor, but Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways tapped a rich cultural vein when it used performers in full, elaborate kabuki costuming and make-up – carrying an assortment of props and accessories – to show passengers how to brace and where to store their baggage. The highly stylized dance-drama lends itself perfectly to showing why aisles should be clear, as well as to separating ANA from the more conservative flag carrier Japan Airlines. The classical art illustrating slide procedures is a brilliant unmistakably Japanese bonus.
When Virgin Atlantic launched its gorgeously-drawn and colored romp through classic cinema in 2014 it set a new standard for animation in the safety world. In 2018, Turkish Airlines partnered with Danish toy block manufacturer LEGO to demonstrate airplane safety and it was such a hit they released a sequel in mid-2019. Emmet, Batman and Wyldstyle (also featured in The LEGO Movie) return with the same kinetic action and vivid images, but notably point out a few more airline features – specifically its destinations and its expanding network. The production is the perfect example of these new videos’ two-tiered goals of dispensing crucial information while also communicating brand identity.
A multi-ethnic, impeccably dressed and tressed crew of five painfully Parisian women are front and center in Air France’s current demo. Vaguely coquettish and undeniably Gallic, it’s as if Amélie de Montmartre – in the flag’s red, white and blue colors of liberty, equality, and fraternity – herself were pointing out our nearest exits. In many ways, it’s to be expected from the flag carrier for a country known for its style and fashion, but the video never teeters over into precious or overeager. Like the rest, it is as much a demonstration of the country as of in-flight safety procedures. As Air France says, it’s très chic.
In the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, it’s no surprise that Qatar Airways is taking the opportunity to really show off the brand’s awards, services, routes – and its little-seen sense of humor. The brand-new football-themed safety video features Brazilian legend Cafu and superstar Neymar Jnr, Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski (who all played or play for Qatar-sponsored teams) and British actors Jason Thorpe and Ross Hatt. Essentially a short comedy film, it injects the kind of playful, contemporary attitude not often associated with the country, still battling poor PR stemming from construction controversies in preparation for the Fifa event. Qatar’s video may be the only one in the air right now that features a song about slides and emergency exits.
At the same time as taking passengers through electronics and evacuation procedures, Singapore Airlines presents itself as the “world’s best” airline it’s been labeled many times over. Understated and elegant, SA’s demo uses Singaporean landmarks and street scenes to illustrate how to store your baggage and buckle your seat belts. It’s not the most exciting safety video out there, but for anyone traveling to the Lion City for the first time, it will provide extra – and intensely visual – tourist information that the pages of Lonely Planet cannot. As guided by a SA flight attendant, Haji Lane, Henderson Waves and the Gardens by the Bay have never looked so luminous.
Note:This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.