11 best pre-flight safety videos worth switching your iPad off for

Air New Zealand Fantastical Journey Safety Video
Air New Zealand
Air New Zealand

One of the most important aspects of flying is something that often gets ignored — the safety demonstration. Whether it’s flight attendants demonstrating it live in the aisle, or a video playing in front of you, this is usually the moment earbuds go in and flyers tune out.

But airlines have begun employing a secret weapon — safety demonstration videos that are not only informative, but also highly entertaining — using musical performances, high-art animation, and humor to subliminally impart the info to you.

As we’ve seen from incidents like the 2013 Asiana crash in San Francisco and the 2009 water landing of a U.S. Airways plane, surviving an accident is not out of the question, thanks to knowledgeable flight crews and pre-flight safety tips. But if you still need some convincing on why you should pay attention, here are a few reasons.

Wearing seatbelts at all times

Most flyers know that turbulence is common, and sometimes it can get pretty violent, which is why the pilot always tell you to buckle up when you’re in your seat. But things happen on the ground, too: In 2011, a giant Air France Airbus A380 clipped a much smaller Delta regional jet and spun it nearly 90 degrees. Luckily nobody was hurt, but it’s one example of why you shouldn’t unbuckle until you’ve reached the gate.

Putting your oxygen mask on first

If a cabin suddenly loses pressure, oxygen masks will drop from above. It’s important to get it on your face because, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, loss of oxygen at high altitudes can quickly deteriorate body functions, causing things like pain and hallucination. This is why you should help yourself before you assist others in putting on the mask: You’ll end up too loopy to help at all if you go too long with low oxygen.

Why you shouldn’t inflate a life vest

After three men attempted to hijack an Ethiopian Airlines plane in 1996, the Boeing 767 made a crash landing on water. Yet, one reason why many passengers died was not because of the impact, but due to them having inflated their life vests while inside the plane. As water rose inside the fuselage, the passengers were trapped by the vests. Today, flyers are advised not to inflate the vests until outside.

Get the picture? Now that you understand their importance, we direct your attention to what we think are the best safety videos — so entertaining are they, most have gone viral on YouTube.

Our favorite safety demonstration videos

United Airlines

United continues to shed its image as a stodgy legacy airline with sleeker branding. On planes equipped with seat-back displays, you can watch its crew members perform safety demonstrations, set in various locales around the world — all with a bit of hilarity.

Air New Zealand

Air New Zealand may be best known for “The Most Epic Safety Video Ever Made,” in which the airline tapped into its sponsorship of The Hobbit films (Peter Jackson filmed Thee Hobbit and Lord of the Ring trilogies in New Zealand) to create a video that’s just as, well, epic. While Tolkien mania has died down, the safety videos are still fun to watch. Its latest features Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Katie Holmes highlighting the beauty of New Zealand, with a touch of fantasy. The airline’s next video will focus on Antarctica and climate change, but we recommend checking out previous hits on Air New Zealand’s YouTube channel.

Virgin America

Alas, with Alaska Airlines’s acquisition of Virgin America now complete, 2018 will see the brand fade away. We described Virgin America as having the cheekiest marketing among domestic airlines, so we’re sad to see it go (Alaska’s service is great, but leans toward conservative). So before we wipe the airline from this list, let’s remember this song and dance performance that, like a Top 40 radio hit, will leave you humming the tune in your head afterward. Alaska, take note.

Starflyer

Starflyer is like the Jetblue of Japan — a low-cost carrier with premium amenities. For its video, it blends live-action demonstrations, narrated by a Gundam-esque robot composed of airplane parts. It is kind of weird and we have no idea what’s going on (thankfully there are subtitles), but it’s still entertaining.

Virgin Atlantic

In 2014, Virgin Atlantic released a beautifully animated film that follows the dreams of a passenger who has fallen asleep during the safety demo. Called “Trip,” each varied dream — homages to Hollywood movie themes — corresponds with an instruction. (Unfortunately, a space scene shows Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, which was destroyed during a test flight.)

Turkish Airlines

Turkish Airlines’s safety video features Zach King, a Vine and YouTube personality known for his “magic” videos, which are cleverly edited clips that create the illusions. For the Turkish Airlines video, he employs his special effects for each safety instruction, and they are quite creative.

Delta Air Lines

Among the legacy carriers, Delta has been cultivating a hipper image for years. Its incredibly entertaining “Internetest” video was chock-full of Internet memes, from Nyan Cat to Double Rainbow dude. Delta seems to have pulled back from the humor, opting for a more professional video that highlights its employees. But it’s the funny ones that we’ll remember most.

TAP Portugal

Portuguese airliner TAP went retro with its safety video, taking passengers back to 1945, when the airline was founded. With comedy, the video starts off inside a mock Douglas DC-3, complete with historic furnishings. As the video progresses, we travel through the airline’s timeline, heading into the Jet Age of the 1950s and modern era. The airline even created a making-of video of the video.

Pan Am

You won’t see this video ever on any flight. This one from defunct carrier Pan Am shows the safety demonstrations from 1988, and it’s amazing that not much has changed. But we love the shots of bygone plane interiors. Check out the section at 1:43, where you’re told to extinguish your cigarette (yes millennials, you could smoke on a plane back in the day).

Bangkok Airways

We aren’t sure if Bangkok Airways is still using this safety demo video it created back in 2012, but the airline spends nearly two minutes of the five-minute video on a cheesy song-and-dance number; there’s enough lip-sync to make Milli Vanilli proud. Like Virgin America’s video, the song gets stuck in your head — but not in a good way.

Mallard Air

What if you hired electro-funk band Chromeo to do your safety video? While it’d sure be entertaining, we’re not sure how safe it’d actually be (it’s not). Thankfully, Mallard Air isn’t real in this Funny or Die production.

Cars

Volvo’s lifted V60 Cross Country wagon laces up its hiking boots

The Volvo V60 Cross Country is a V60 station wagon with jacked up suspension and more rugged looks. It's the latest Volvo to take advantage of the Swedish automaker's Scalable Product Architecture platform and advanced safety tech.
Business

Delta tech issue grounds planes, tells travelers to check Wednesday flights

Delta Air Lines has resolved a tech issue that stopped its planes from taking off from U.S. airports on Tuesday. But it's advising Delta customers flying on Wednesday to check the status of their flight before leaving home.
Business

Flying could feel more like going to the movies with VR headsets and headphones

How do you make in-flight entertainment feel like not flying at all? Put a screen on your face and noise-canceling headphones in your ears. Alaska Airlines is now testing virtual reality headsets for in-flight entertainment.
Cars

Aced it! Tesla’s Model 3 earns a five-star crash-test rating

The results are in and they're great: the rear-wheel drive Tesla Model 3 has aced the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's different crash tests and earned a five-star safety rating.
Apple

Apple hates sex, drugs, and violence — on Apple TV, anyway

Apple is working hard to produce original TV shows and movies. It's also working to ensure that violence, nudity, and other potentially offensive content can't tarnish the company's image.
Business

How T-Mobile plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs

In a recent FCC statement, T-Mobile COO Michael Sievert outlined the company's plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs such as Comcast and Charter. The company says it would offer lower rates and higher speeds.
Movies & TV

‘The House With a Clock in its Walls’ wins the weekend box office with big debut

Family-friendly horror film The House With a Clock in its Walls outperformed expectations to win the weekend box office in a big way and help kick off the all-ages side of the Halloween movie season.
Mobile

MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile and includes Amazon Prime

Looking for a great prepaid phone plan? MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile, and the veteran carrier is promising to provide a variety of prepaid phone plans that offer great value for money, and access to Google One and Amazon Prime.
Photography

Musicbed gives YouTube creators a legal soundtrack option

YouTube flags videos that use copyrighted music in them -- so music licensing platform Musicbed is launching a new subscription plan and a way to tell YouTube's bots to back off with those flags.
Mobile

Apple purchases Shazam and makes the app free of ads

Soon after Apple announced it was acquiring music-recognition service Shazam, it was revealed that the European Commission would be looking into the deal. The commission has now cleared the way for Apple's acquisition of Shazam.
Computing

Microsoft Teams blurs your video background, prevents national embarrassment

Users of Microsoft Teams platform can now blur out their background during video calls as the company calls out the world's favorite BBC dad to show it can be done. Available now for all Microsoft Team customers.
Social Media

Instagram’s co-founders have resigned from the Facebook-owned company

In a surprise move, Instagram co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger are stepping down from their roles as CEO and chief technology officer, respectively. It's not clear why the pair have chosen to leave the Facebook-owned company.
Business

Monster fires ‘toxic’ COO, alleges threats of mutilation, death

Monster, the company that turned the headphone industry upside down with Dr. Dre, is upending its own executive board, announcing in a press release that it had fired “toxic” COO Fereidoun “Fred” Khalilian as of July 27, 2018 –…
Cars

Ikea jumps on the autonomous car bandwagon — because why wouldn’t it?

Space10, Ikea's research and development arm, has introduced seven autonomous car concepts. Some fall in line with what we've seen from established automakers, while others bring new ideas to the conversation about autonomous cars.