Even people who haven’t flown are pretty familiar with the basics of the safety spiel the cabin crew gives before takeoff — no smoking, buckle your seatbelt and keep it buckled, know where the exits are, don’t freak the f*#$ out when the oxygen bag thing drops, and if we crash into the water and manage to survive, you can float in the freezing water on your seat cushion. The more concise an airline can make these statements, the better. But United Airlines thinks that the best way to make you give a hoot about airline safety is to make you watch a 4.5-minute video that tries to tickle your funny bone.
It takes a full 20 seconds of United staffers greeting you in different languages and your “pilot” finishing up his coffee at some presumably French bistro before it finally makes even the first mention of the rules.
Then there’s a huge pause as the pilot admires a Parisian on a unicycle, mangling “Rhapsody in Blue” while carting fresh-baked bread in a bag on his back.
Followed by another long stretch of nothing worth watching as a flight attendant hails a cab in NYC, all so she can eventually show you how to buckle the seatbelt.
It’s worth noting that the saxophone playing loudly over this part of the video is eerily reminiscent of Bernhard Herrmann’s score for Taxi Driver. Probably not the association that United was hoping to make.
Now it’s off to Japan, where a flight attendant makes… an origami plane, complete with CGI exits, and emergency slides.
It goes on… and on… and on like this. Traveling to Las Vegas to watch a United staffer drone on about sitting in exit rows; the Swiss alps, where all this boring talk of safety is interrupted by a brief James Bond-like clip of a fist fight on top of a gondola.
Keep in mind, we’re only halfway through the video at this point. It’s likely taken you less time to read this and think of the hate mail you’re going to send me than it would have to watch just this portion of the mini-movie.
We won’t even get into the remaining segments of the video that linger too long on kangaroos and flamingos because we can already feel you getting angry and don’t want to have to return to the gate and kick you off this flight.
All the safety stuff you already knew is finally over around the 4:15 mark, but United has to crank up the Gershwin full blast to waste another 15-20 seconds of your time with people you will never meet telling you how much they appreciate you.
“We’re taking an approach of sophisticated humor that reflects our brand,” a rep for the company tells the Chicago Tribune.
We’ll disagree that the video is sophisticated or humorous, but we do agree that the bloated, stagnant, and overlong clip does indeed reflect the United brand.