With flyers more distracted than ever, United rolls out a rebooted safety video (2024)

On the set of United Airlines' new onboard safety video in Montreal, Canada. Courtesy of United Airlines hide caption

toggle caption

Courtesy of United Airlines

With flyers more distracted than ever, United rolls out a rebooted safety video (2)

On the set of United Airlines' new onboard safety video in Montreal, Canada.

Courtesy of United Airlines

MONTREAL — The cast and crew on this soundstage are at the mercy of a little blue ball.

It's about the size of a billiard ball. It rolls, bounces, and floats its way through a Rube Goldberg machine — a complicated chain reaction that leads the viewer from scene to scene in United Airlines' new onboard safety video.

This is live action, not CGI. And the little blue ball doesn't always cooperate.

National

There's usually no need to panic when planes make emergency landings. Here's why

"Right now, nobody in this building wants to ever do a Rube Goldberg again," laughs director Karim Zariffa. And he's not totally joking. Even after the airline employees who make up the cast deliver a perfect performance, Zariffa says, "you still have to make the ball land where it should be."

United is hoping that some very long days on set will be worth it. Airlines are constantly fighting for the attention of their passengers who are distracted by screens of their own. It's a constant challenge to make those passengers focus on the safety briefing that's required before every commercial flight — thousands of times a day, every single day of the year.

United is releasing a new onboard safety video the airline hopes will capture the attention of distracted passengers, even on multiple viewings.

YouTube

"The safest safety video is one that people will want to watch even on your 45th viewing," said Meg Mitchell, the creative director at United, who helped oversee production of the safety video the airline unveiled Thursday.

There's not much room for creativity in the wording of onboard safety videos, Mitchell said, because they are largely dictated by federal regulators. So the airline focused instead on making the video as visually interesting as possible — even for frequent flyers.

"People start to tune out," Mitchell said in an interview. "And so we wanted something that felt like you could watch over and over and over again, and still want to pay attention to."

Crew members set up more than 1,000 dominos on the set of United's new safety video. Courtesy of United Airlines hide caption

toggle caption

Courtesy of United Airlines

With flyers more distracted than ever, United rolls out a rebooted safety video (5)

Crew members set up more than 1,000 dominos on the set of United's new safety video.

Courtesy of United Airlines

If you've flown recently, you've probably noticed your fellow passengers reading, playing video games, or just staring into their phones before takeoff — anything, in other words, except watching the onboard safety video.

For a while, those safety videos became a kind of arms race between airlines, as they competed to see who could come up with the funniest, weirdest, most viral videos.

The trend took off in 2007 when Virgin America introduced a dryly humorous animated video. And it peaked, arguably, in 2014, with an elaborate Air New Zealand production starring cast members of The Hobbit that's been watched more than 24 million times on YouTube.

An elaborate safety video from Air New Zealand that stars cast members of The Hobbit has been watched more than 24 million times on YouTube.

YouTube

But not everyone is a fan. Critics worry that humor may unintentionally distract passengers, who tend to remember the jokes, but not the actual safety message.

"It's too cognitively taxing, and then retention of information decreases," said Brett Molesworth, a professor of aviation safety at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, who has studied how much information passengers retain from safety videos. Molesworth says the shift toward longer, more elaborate concepts may be counterproductive.

"When you start pairing or introducing a storyline or some type of marketing, advertising, you're only going to adversely affect the retention of information," Molewsorth said.

National

FAA bill would force the agency to craft 'real world' rules for airplane evacuations

All this seems to leave airlines in a bind. They need to grab your attention — but at the same time, they don't want the video to distract passengers from the safety message.

That's not an easy trick to pull off. But it is doable, says United's vice president for safety, Sasha Johnson.

"I'm very proud of the video we put forward," Johnson said. "I think it does strike the right balance between getting people to pay attention. But also delivering that information fresh every single time so they can be prepared."

Shooting for United's video ended in November. A few months later, a Japan Airlines jet burst into flames after colliding with another aircraft on a runway in Tokyo. Remarkably, all of the passengers evacuated safely, leaving their carry-on bags behind — one more reminder of why these onboard safety videos matter.

NPR's Joel Rose reported from Washington, D.C. and Emma Jacobs contributed from Montreal

With flyers more distracted than ever, United rolls out a rebooted safety video (2024)

FAQs

What was the impact of the incidents described in the case on United Airlines' reputation? ›

The impact of the incidents described in the case on United Airlines' reputation was severe. The public was outraged and felt betrayed and disrespected by the airline. It had a negative opinion of the company and some even called for a boycott.

What is the public perception of United Airlines? ›

In total, 35% of U.S. airline customers say they like United Airlines. However, in actuality, among the 84% of U.S. respondents who know United Airlines, 42% of people like the brand.

What airline is most complained about? ›

In 2022 , Frontier Airlines reported 20.26 customer complaints for each 100,000 enplanements on domestic-scheduled operations. This was the highest rate of customer complaints among U.S. carriers.

Which airline has a bad reputation? ›

Frontier is the worst US airline in 2023, and Spirit isn't far behind, according to recent study — see the list of the top 10 airlines.

What happened to United Airlines reputation after several in flight incidents were reported according to the discussion case United Airlines navigating a social media storm? ›

United Airlines' reputation suffered significant damage after several in-flight incidents were reported. For example, the incident involving the forcible removal of a passenger from a flight caused widespread outrage and negative publicity towards the airline, leading to a decline in public perception.

What was significant about the crash of United Airlines Flight 232? ›

United Airlines Flight 232, the deadliest plane crash in the airline's history, took off from Denver on July 19, 1989, heading for Chicago. The plane suffered catastrophic engine failure on the way. The hydraulic systems failed, and the plane was losing the ability to fly.

What was the outcome of Andrews v United Airlines? ›

Plaintiff does not claim that Defendant's personnel were involved Rather, Plaintiff claims that her injury was foreseeable and that Defendant did not prevent it. The district court dismissed the suit on summary judgment.

What was the United Airlines scandal? ›

In 2017, United Airlines forcibly removed passenger David Dao from Flight 3411. The airline decided to bump four passengers from the flight in order to fly four United staff members to a connection point. The airline offered passengers $800 compensation and a seat on a flight the following afternoon.

References

Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated:

Views: 5496

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 93% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.