Airline safety demonstrations are necessary and required evil on flights. Real road warriors could probably stand up and recite the presentation word for word. So carriers realized they had to get clever with these videos to capture their passengers’ attention. The best airline safety videos are edge-of-your-seat fun that passengers and couch potatoes alike love watching.
This San Francisco-based airline worked with director and Virgin America frequent flyer Jon M. Chu in 2013 to create a safety video disguised as a dance/music video. American Idol season nine alum Todrick Hall was tapped to create the music and lyrics for the video, while choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott of Step Up fame created the dance moves. Coupled with the hashtag #VXsafetydance, the five-minute video features So You Think You Can Dance alums including Cyrus Spencer, Sasha Mallory, Phillip Chbeeb, and Marko Germar, along with Virgin America’s in-flight operations and safety teams.
Singapore Airlines used its safety video, released in 2017, to take viewers on what it called a panoramic journey across various locations in Singapore. An iconic Singapore Girl travels to familiar landmarks such as Boat Quay, the Intan Peranakan Home Museum, River Safari, Haji Lane, Adventure Cove Waterpark, Henderson Waves, Capitol Theatre and Gardens by the Bay. At each location, she meets people engaged in different activities that just happen to also demonstrate safety instructions. The 5:49-minute video, created under a partnership with the airline and the Singapore Tourism Board, is designed to promote inbound travel to and through Singapore.
Portugal’s flag carrier airline, TAP Air Portugal, put out a casting call for more than one thousand passengers from different nationalities and narrowed it down to 50 who were chosen to appear in its safety video in 2013. The airline built a hangar at Lisbon Airport that housed a set of a black-and-white sketched aircraft interiors and featured the passengers helping with the safety instructions in this 3:29-minute video.
In 2015, the Chicago-based carrier United Airlines had crew members star in this safety video. They travel to United destinations around the world to show off safety features. It starts with the airline’s iconic “Rhapsody in Blue” theme being recorded in what turns out to be the Beatles’ Abbey Road recording studio in London, then moves on to St. Andrews golf course, San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf, a beach in Hawaii, United’s Willis Tower headquarters in Chicago, a Scottish castle, a dragon parade in Hong Kong, and Machu Picchu.
In July 2012, this Sharjah, UAE-based low-cost carrier unveiled a children's plane safety video featuring kids in key roles, from pilot to passenger. Done in both English and Arabic, kids dressed in Air Arabia outfits have replaced the actual crew members. The video shows them interacting with passengers, also played by children, and instructing them about safety using colorful drawings and animation pictures. The airline called the video a fun and engaging way to deliver their aircraft safety message, making for high passenger engagement during the briefing.
In 2014, Sir Peter Jackson was preparing to release the final installment of the second Middle-Earth trilogy, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. So it was the perfect time for the airline to create a safety video that highlighted the movie. Jackson and his WETA Workshop worked with director Taika Waititi, the New Zealand ad agency True, and Air New Zealand to create the 4:38-minute video. Appearing in the video were “Hobbit” actors Elijah Wood, Dean O'Gorman, Sylvester McCoy, and Jackson himself. A nice touch was a large sculpture, created by the WETA Workshop, of Gollum going underwater to try and catch a fish suspended in front of him that's installed at Auckland International Airport.
You must give kudos to American Airlines, because the Fort Worth-based carrier’s kaleidoscopic safety video from 2016 is mesmerizing. The music is made up of sounds you hear when boarding a flight, such as the announcement dings, the clicks of a seatbelt, and even people in the airport. The idea, according to American Airlines, was to produce an in-flight safety video that is an unexpected treat for the eyes and ears. Every move of the cast, crew, and set was choreographed to be in sync with the safety instructions being given to passengers before flight.
One cool twist was the creation of the American Airlines eagle logo using red, white and blue pieces of luggage. Amazingly enough, the 4:20-minute video is a long take, meaning it was filmed in one consecutive shot. Such a technique takes significant work offscreen to make it smooth onscreen.
Delta Airlines flight attendant Katherine Lee became a star due to the viral 2008 safety video. Clocking in at 4:37, the video dubbed Lee “Deltalina,” and featured her wagging finger warning passengers that they could not smoke aboard the flight. She later performed her act on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” which was being filmed aboard an actual Delta flight. She also did a series of videos that were shown during Atlanta Falcons home games during the 2008 NFL season and was featured in a promotional video for the Atlanta Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The island nation’s flag carrier decided to use famous spots in the country in its safety video released in 2014. The airline wanted it's 2:42-minute video to not only emphasize the importance of safety but also show off the country’s sense of curiosity and Icelandic beauty.
For example, emergency lighting takes on a new, non-threatening identity when compared to the northern lights, and assuming the brace position becomes a calm and collected maneuver when waking up after a long relaxing slumber by the lulling shores of a lake. Other spots featured were Jokulsarlon, Thkgil canyon, Fjadrargljufur gorge, Thorsmork National Park and Eyjafjallajokull, a glacier-capped stratovolcano in southwest Iceland that erupted in March 2010.
The low-cost Turkish carrier, Pegasus Airlines, decided to go the superhero route when creating its new safety video in 2015: "Pegasus’la Süper Kahraman Gibi Uç! Süper Kahramanlarla Güvenlik Videosu," or "Fly as a Super Hero With Pegasus! Super Heroes Security Video." Pegasus partnered with Disney Turkey to feature iconic Marvel Comics characters using the tag line “Even if you're a superhero, flight safety rules are important for you.” The flight safety rules are explained by Thor, Black Widow, Captain America, Iron Man, Loki, Hawkeye and Odin, all seen through the eyes of a child in this 4:55-minute video. Each hero uses their superpowers to display the rules as well as showing guests what to do in case of an emergency.
Even before Air Arabia did its kid-themed safety video, the London Luton-based carrier, Thomson Airways, released their 3:23-minute-long inflight safety film in 2009. “Alice the Chief Steward” stars a seven-year-old girl who plays the lead flight attendant alongside other adorable children as the captain, first officer, flight attendants, and passengers.
Turkish airlines tapped illusionist and Instagram star Zach King to add magic to its safety video. King is seen appearing out of the bulkhead, tossing a carry-on bag perfectly into the overhead bin, magically buckling an already buckled seat belt, and folding down a laptop computer and putting it into his shirt pocket, among other things.