For years we have been told to set aside our reading materials while an airline safety video is played prior to takeoff, but few people comply with that request. In fact, most openly ignore it–continuing conversations, remaining focused on reading material, or even sneaking a peak at electronic devices. With electronic devices now permitted during all stages of flight, even more will ignore the safety videos. Does that compromise safety? Or have these safety videos outlived their utility?
Safety briefings are mandated by the FAA so any talk of changing policy is purely speculative. But it seems to me that a multi-lingual safety card is sufficient and a video or personal demonstration of how to fasten a seatbelt or use an oxygen mask is redundant. Wouldn’t a simple announcement to the effect of, “Please refer to the safety card in the seatback in front of you for important safety information regarding this flight. Please look it over carefully. While we do not anticipate any problems today, your familiarity with the safety features of this aircraft may be the difference between life and death in case of an emergency.”
Maybe that is a little harsh, but playing a safety video may be fulfilling a FAA mandate but it is not educating people if they are not listening.
Another issue–advertisements. United plays a one-minute intro video before each safety video. I like these videos, but do they turn people off before the safety video even starts? US Airways hawks “a very special credit card offer only available on this flight” on every flight…what a great way to lose people’s attention.
Maybe all airlines should just use Air New Zealand safety videos. On second thought…
As geek about such things, I do love watching the safety videos and miss the days of the live demonstrations. But it does remind me of one of those other every-flight jokes of the industry from the ’90s: the questions that a ticket agent would ask you before checking you in:
“Did you pack this bag yourself?”
“Has anyone asked you to carry anything onboard the flight today?”
“Have your bags been in your possession at all times?”
By the time the government got rid of them in the early 2000s, they were the butt of every joke about airport security theater. The jokes worked not just because those questions weren’t going to trip up any terrorists, but because every American could recite them by heart.
We may have gotten to that same saturation point with the safety videos – they’re part of our culture now, and we can probably remove them safely.
Airlines themselves are realizing this, I think Virgin America sums it up best with their video:
*”For the .001% of you who have never operated a seatbelt before…”
I think the safety video IMO still makes sense because I’m sure there are a surprising number of infrequent travelers what don’t know the basics of airline safety. That said, I feel the video should be a short as possible.
I also must take a different view of the advertisements. The “video from Jeff” is useless and self-serving. The worst was the PGA tour video that ran for ages. The best part was the quote from the service agent stating that United does everything possible “to make [golf player’s] flight[s] as comfortable as possible.” Is that a service available only to famous golf players? What do you do to make my flight more comfortable?
I could also comment on the obnoxious Direct TV commercial that runs after the safety video, and the two commercials I’m forced to watch after that. But I’ll stop here. =)
Remember how pmUA safety briefings used to begin with “please remove the safety card from the seat pocket in front of you and follow along…”? I don’t think I ever saw anybody ever touch the safety card.
I was just chuckling and thinking that the videos ought to include instructions on not using “The T word” or taking pictures of the cabin or talking to angry FA’s who might take a grudge out on you.
Seriously though: included in the safety demonstrations are instructions to turn off electronics during taxiing, remain seated until the plane comes to a stop, etc. Although it seems like overkill, a lot of people refuse to be civil about obeying those instructions even with frequent demos. After a few years, a lot of infrequent and intransigent flyers would probably start to slack off and forget to fasten their seat belts during takeoff/landing, etc. and would argue that they thought that rule didn’t apply anymore, etc.
I personally would like to see MORE in the demos such as if you’re sitting the back, don’t dump your bag in the front bin. Or if you don’t want the person to recline in front of you, ask them nicely instead of kicking his seat on the flight from MUC to IAD.