There’s no doubt the glamorous heyday of jet travel has long since passed. Air travel today is a mind-numbing cocktail of delays, surcharges, and frustrations.
Sure, there are aspects of the experience that airlines strive to make special—the serenity of the lounge, the plushness of the blanket and the size of the flat screen—but this is the exclusive domain of frequent flyers and those in the front cabin. For the rest of us, who wait in line, board last and have to pay to carry luggage, any magic in the experience of air travel has entirely evaporated in the pursuit of cost-cutting. The experience of flying coach, domestically at least, has become a commodity.
And while nothing has fundamentally changed about the in-flight experience, I have recently found myself occasionally smiling while parked on the tarmac at JFK. And the thing that’s bringing this smile to my face isn’t the in-flight massage or the French Champagne. It’s the in-flight safety video.
Virgin America led the way in evolving beyond the mind-numbing low-budget instructional video. Building a new airline from scratch allowed them to consider every element of the experience as a genuine consumer touch point—an opportunity to reinforce the brand values and communicate what’s unique about their airline and experience.
And all of a sudden, the industry started seizing this opportunity. Where Virgin America employed humor and irreverence, Delta employed a flame-haired, finger-wagging bombshell. Even more impressive than actually getting a planeload of middle-aged business travelers to listen to safety instructions, is the fact that Delta’s in-flight safety video has close to two million views on YouTube.
But without a doubt the most creative approach is from Air New Zealand. It may be a minute or so before you realize just how stripped down this idea really is.
Hats, and shirts, off to these airlines for applying refreshing creativity to the most mundane of experiences.