Here, have a look at the new pre-flight safety video from Virgin America…
THE IDEA, I think, is that you’ll come away thinking Wow, like, that’s so edgy and cool and fun.
I came away tired and looking for an aspirin.
They took a somewhat entertaining idea and made a monster out of it. The video runs for an excruciating five minutes. Imagine being a Virgin America frequent flyer — or employee — and having to listen to that thing over and over and over and over. The cabin crew are going to need counseling.
Airline safety briefings are a kind of legal fine print come to life. They do contain some important and useful info, but it’s so layered in babble that people tune out and ignore the entire thing. “Federal law prohibits tampering with, disabling, or destroying a lavatory smoke detector.” What’s wrong with,”Tampering with a lavatory smoke detector is prohibited.” And do we really need a full dissertation on the finer points of attaching and inflating a life-vest — overly detailed instructions that nobody is going to remember if the vests are actually needed? Merely setting all of this ornamental gibberish to music does not make it more compelling or palatable. It also undermines the briefing’s potential value. It also undermines the whole purpose of the briefing. If safety is really the point, the briefing should be taken seriously. Here, you’re watching it for fun, not to actually learn anything that might save your life.
Here’s a better idea: shrink it. Hit the bullet points and never mind the rest. In the interest of both safety and sanity, no pre-flight demo, be it a video or the old-fashioned “live” version, should be more than a minute or so long. If you insist on being cute, please do it in 60 seconds or less.
Flying is a noisy enough experience as it is, and airline passengers are already “talked to” enough, from the barrage of public address announcements in the terminals to the various on-board spiels. (On the last long-haul flight I took, the first 25 minutes after takeoff were nothing but PAs.) We don’t also need five minutes of singing and dancing.
Carriers spend a lot of money putting these videos together. They’re helpful, I guess, for generating publicity and a bit of social media buzz — one can argue that’s the entire point. But the novelty wears off quickly. I’m all for airlines thinking outside the box and getting creative. We need more of that, frankly. Just not like this.
Yikes, and I seem to be in the minority here. Last I looked, Virgin America’s YouTube video has ten times as many thumbs-up as thumbs-down, and now my esteemed fellow blogger Christine Negroni has given it her blessings!
For more on safety demos, seat-pocket briefing cards and public address announcements, see chapter five of my book.