The humble airline safety video started off as a simple and efficient way to brief passengers quickly and consistently. The only problem was that passengers found them dull – before long, many passengers just weren’t paying any attention to the important subject matter.
Most airline’s got around that problem by placing their cabin crew throughout the cabin – the idea was to shame passengers into paying attention to the important information being displayed on their television screens. Some carriers, including Qantas, even get their crew to manually demonstrate the safety features in tandem with the video.
Other’s use the opportunity to point out exits and the rest, such as Emirates simply require their cabin crew to sternly look over passengers. Then came the idea to grab the attention of passengers through comedy and showmanship. The likes of Air New Zealand and Virgin America became most famous for this genre of safety video.
Even the otherwise staid, British Airways will be launching a comedy packed safety video, featuring famous British actors in September. Suddenly, the boring safety video had turned into a promotional event for airlines. It wasn’t just a means of briefing passengers but a marketing opportunity.
It’s probably no surprise then that airlines have hit upon the idea of transforming the safety briefing into a promotional destination video for their home country or city. And it seems like the new videos are coming thick and fast. Singapore Airlines and Spanish flag-carrier, Iberia are the latest two airline’s to release their destination packed videos.
The videos provide a visually appealing way to address onboard safety issues but some people aren’t quite so impressed. Critics point out that some of the videos focus too much on the destination with very little time actually spent talking about the safety issues. They also raise concerns about ‘removing’ the safety film from an actual aircraft – after all, surely the point of having to watch the film is because we’re not accustomed to the intricacies of an aircraft cabin.
That being said, some video’s are better than others – and they at least all cover the most basic details required by law. Take a look at these airline safety videos featuring the carrier’s home country and tell us what you think…
Singapore Airlines released their new safety video in August with a plan to take “viewers on a panoramic journey across various locations in Singapore.” The idea behind the video was to “go beyond the traditional space of an aircraft cabin.”
The video features famous locations across Singapore including Boat Quay, The Intan Peranakan Home Museum, River Safari, Haji Lane, Adventure Cove WaterparkTM, Henderson Waves, Capitol Theatre and Gardens by the Bay. Our tour guide is one of the airline’s iconic ‘Singapore Girls’.
Unsurprisingly, the video was dreamt up as part of a joint marketing plan between the airline and the Singapore Tourism Board to promote inbound tourism to the city state. Elizabeth Quek, the Singapore Girl featured in the video describes it as “like taking our customers on a walk through Singapore.”
She continued: “The locations featured in the video help show Singapore as a modern cosmopolitan city with unique culture and heritage, and I am honoured to be part of this wonderful journey.”
Iberia launched their video at the end of last month and its plan is to feature some of the most famous attractions in and around Spain’s capital city, Madrid. Why just Madrid? Well, the airline realised that two-thirds of their long haul passengers were transiting through their hub airport in Madrid without ever stepping foot outside. The plan, in partnership with the Madrid Regional Government, is to encourage more passengers to visit the city.
“The footage of Madrid surprises customers who don’t expect to see such images in a safety video. The video is very modern but also very familiar, just like Madrid itself, which welcomes visitors like old friends”, commented Gemma Juncá, Iberia’s senior brand manager.
The only problem is that Madrid doesn’t really get much of a look in – after about ten seconds, the rest of the video is filmed in a studio. A missed opportunity or just concentrating on safety? You decide.
Building on the success of its 2016 destination video, Qantas launched an updated (and even longer) version in January. Again, Qantas was upfront about the purpose of the video – as per the media release: “Qantas will be using content from the video to promote the destinations it showcases for Australia’s key tourism markets.”
Nonetheless, Alan Joyce, the airline’s chief executive was quick to point out the video had an important point to make as well: “What we’ve found is that it’s a lot easier to grab people’s attention with something that’s interesting to watch,”
He continued: “We know the combination of beautiful landscapes and laid-back Aussie charm really cuts through. It’s also why this video doubles as a perfect tourism ad.”
The tour across Australia includes St Kilda Pier, Hunter Valley, Q1 Goldcoast, Docklands Melbourne, Sydney Harbour, Cape Banks, Kings Park Perth, Field of Lights Uluru, Mt Ainslie Canberra, Moreton Island, Darwin, Hobart, Cape Hillsborough, Mt Hotham, Barossa Valley, Port Lincoln.
Oman Air got in on the act quite early, releasing their destination safety video in September 2016. The idea was to not only showcase Oman itself but also “its rich historical and cultural heritage.” The video came as Oman Air made a huge investment in cabin crew training and the onboard product.
As well expanding its global route network, Oman Air is also committed to becoming the “airline of choice” for Oman’s burgeoning tourism scene. However, some critics aren’t happy with the safety video likening an aircraft safety belt to a car seatbelt. They say the whole point of the safety video is to reinforce the fact that safety belts on aircraft are different from car seatbelts – in some aircraft crashes, panicked passengers have been known to struggle to free themselves as they search for a button to push, rather than lifting the clasp.
Air New Zealand
Even Air New Zealand has joined other airline’s in releasing a destination packed safety video. The video features American actors Katie Holmes and Cuba Gooding Jr. as they take viewers on a magical tour of New Zealand.
Still, this wouldn’t be Air New Zealand if it wasn’t a little different. The airline describes it as an “Alice in Wonderland inspired adventure.” Jodi Williams, Air New Zealand’s General Manager of Global Brand said of the video:
“We’ve taken a different approach creatively with our latest safety video, working closely with our creative agency True, and Auckland-based production company Assembly throughout the process on the special effects to help take people on a magical tour of the country.”
Meanwhile, Philippine Airlines launched their new safety video in February, describing it as the world’s first “crowdsourced inflight safety video.” The airline says it was inspired by two unique Filipino traits – being “maaruga” (caring) and the spirit of “bayanihan” (unity/cooperation).
The video features destinations throughout the Philippines including: Legazpi and continued in Cebu, Boracay, Davao, Coron, Laoag, Bohol, Cagayan De Oro and Manila.
“The crowdsource concept makes PAL’s new safety video unique in the airline world. It is engaging because it is two-pronged: it provides the latest safety guidelines and also generates interest to travel to and within the Philippines,” commented Jaime J. Bautista, the airline’s President.
Middle East Airlines (MEA)
Finally, the Lebanon-based Middle East Airlines has merged Lebanese destinations with comedy, music and dance – and all on a budget in their August 2016 released safety video.
Video Credits: Singapore Airways, Iberia, Qantas, Oman Air, Air New Zealand, Philippine Airlines and MEA
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.