The best airline safety videos of all time
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Following on from my post about the greatest airline advertisements of all time, I was itching to further share my obsession with another joyous type of airline content: the safety demonstration video.
Safety videos were once incredibly serious and boring. Their only purpose was to share the important safety information ahead of a flight where there were screens available, saving the crew having to perform a manual demonstration each time.
In recent years, airlines have gone all out on these videos, and even spent millions on a single video. They realized it was a fantastic opportunity to convey their brand to a captive audience. Some have even challenged that the airlines have gone too far and put their brand ahead of the safety message.
Wherever you land on this matter, the entertainment value cannot be denied, and here are the best airline safety videos of all time.
Qantas: 100 Years of Qantas (2020)
This new video from Qantas clinches the top spot in my eyes. I’ve watched it about 15 times since it launched, and I have cried each and every time. I dread to think what will happen when I finally take to skies again and watch this onboard. We all know that those tears flow even more freely on a plane.
Virgin America: VX Safety Dance (2013)
The tune is a hit, and Virgin America brought the vibes from start to finish. Don’t miss the rap breakdown in the middle from the absolute boss of a kid. Virgin America is no more, but I have fond memories of watching this video flying Virgin America first class for the first time from New York to Los Angeles one day after meeting TPG himself Brian Kelly for the first time in person in November 2016.
El Al: The Pink Panther (1994)
This may not be one you remember, but in my eyes, it deserves its spot nonetheless. Back in the early ’90s, safety videos were not the place to find drama, excitement or indeed celebrity appearances. But El Al was ahead of the curve in 1994 with the Pink Panther and his gang on hand to lead passengers through the safety demo. This was the video that accompanied my many childhood trips to the Holyland and it brings nostalgia in bounds. While the whole video is unfortunately no longer available, I long to hear the Pink Panther theme again boarding a plane.
Air New Zealand: The most epic safety video ever made (2014)
Air New Zealand leads the world’s airlines in big spend, big production safety videos. This tongue-in-cheek, yet epic video is a dream for fans of the Hobbit, which was of course filmed in New Zealand. They even serve up a slice of Elijah Wood!
Delta: The Internet-est safety video on the Internet (2015)
Delta really upped its game in 2015 with this hilarious video that dives deep into meme culture. See if you can spot and remember each of the references. There are a lot!
BRITISH AIRWAYS: Absolutely fabulous! (2018)
British Airways has taken “star-studded” to the next level with its series of safety videos presented by People Do Nothing star Chabuddy G. The list of cameos across the various videos is endless but includes a-list royalty such as Joanna Lumley, Sir Ian McKellan, Gillian Anderson, Sir Michael Caine, Asim Chaudhry, Olivia Colman, Jourdan Dunn, Naomie Harris, Joanna Lumley and David Walliams.
United: Safety is global III (2018)
I’m always looking for a safety video to hit me right in the feels. United did a fantastic job with its series of “Safety is Global” videos. The crew explain the safety procedures whilst taking us on a journey around the world, from Holi festival in India to the Northern Lights, and everywhere in between.
Air New Zealand: The bare essentials of safety (2009)
Air New Zealand could have an article all of its own on this topic, but this video has to make the cut. The Kiwis took the bare essentials quite literally. Watch as the pilots and cabin crew present the safety information in nothing but body paint!
Air Koryo: Welcome to Air Koryo’s aeroplane of Juche-oriented Korea (2010)
I flew Air Koryo in October 2010 from Beijing to Pyongyang and it was probably one of the unique airlines I have ever flown (it was also named the worst airline in the world!). Every aspect had its quirks, but any video that starts with dramatic communist-style propaganda shots and the following announcement deserves a spot on this list: “Ladies and Gentlemen! Welcome to Air Koryo’s aeroplane of Juche-oriented Korea, vigorously advancing toward the Socialist powerful nation by the Songun politics of the Great Leader King Jong Il.”
Featured photo courtesy of PRNewsFoto/Virgin America
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