Those Boring Safety Demonstrations

As I watched our flight attendants go through their demonstration for the benefit of the passengers, I thought, once again: “Who by now doesn’t know how to buckle a seat belt?” Because, you know, it just seems a little silly to go through the motions, when it takes even the most inexperienced flier about five seconds to get the hang of it.

And I’m not talking about little kiddies here, because Mom and Dad are going to buckle those belts for them.

It is not, as they say, rocket science.

That, though, is a rather manini complaint when you consider all the other minor and not-so-minor irritations of modern flight travel.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to launch into a rant about flying.

I do want to acknowledge a real improvement in the way some airlines go about presenting their pre-flight safety information.

The newer planes have monitors on each seat back, allowing them to play a video instead of relying on the well-meaning but rather sketchy live demos presented by flight attendants, who often rush through the motions looking about as bored as their passengers.

Most of the videos I’ve seen range from a little cheesy to work-manlike, although there is one that is wildly entertaining, which I’ll get to in a moment.

They all have the advantage of actually showing, in greater detail, the location of those exits, the lights along the aisles, and the proper way to wear and employ a safety vest.

One video showed in detail exactly how to open the emergency door, something I never knew even after studying those little diagrams on the safety cards. That same video showed what the life vests looked like under the seats and how to quickly remove them.

Hawaiian Airlines does a fairly good job with its video. At least the actors are good-looking and friendly. You can tell which airlines had the budgets to produce a slicker and more thorough product. But even the more modest ones do a much better job of showing us what to do than the old hand-waving-in-the-aisle demonstrations.

I realize the necessity of presenting the information in any and all forms so I’m not complaining. I’m only pointing out that, if it’s important enough to do, it should be important enough to do better.

By far, the best safety video should receive some sort of award. Is there an Oscar category for in-flight videos?

We flew Virgin America from Los Angeles to Dallas. We buckled in, sat back and prepared to ignore another safety presentation.

Whoa. If you get a chance, Google Virgin America’s safety video. It is shockingly good. It’s a singing, dancing, joke-telling extravaganza that had everyone — or maybe just the newbies like me — sitting up and leaning forward.

One could criticize this as nothing more than a wildly flamboyant marketing gimmick.

But I’ll tell you what: Most people weren’t napping or reading or sneaking another game of Words with Friends on their cellphones.

They were watching.

They were entertained.

They probably even absorbed some of that critical information.

It made them feel happier about sitting in an airplane.

I’d say those folks in the creative department did their jobs and made our travel experience more bearable.