Flying can be a nerve-racking experience. As if dealing with long lines and TSA agents with a penchant for inappropriate touching aren't bad enough, you also get to quietly wonder if yours is the plane that will malfunction in some horrific manner and slam into the business side of a mountain. Sure, statistically speaking, you're much safer flying than driving, but that's little relief when you're in the air and completely unable to control what's happening. It also doesn't help that each flight kicks off with a safety video.
While the heads up about what to do if things take a turn for the Buddy Holly is a nice touch, it also serves as a stark reminder that you being that high in the air stands in direct opposition to the laws of gravity. A plane crash is the last thing you want to think about when flying, but it's the first thing that comes to mind once that video starts.
In addition to being secretly terrifying, there's another major flaw with flight safety videos. In short, they aren't long enough. Information about exits and illuminated aisles is great, but there are plenty of tips that should be discussed but never are.
Here are five things every flight safety video should (but doesn't) address ...
#5. The Potential Ramifications of Not Turning Off Electronic Devices
Of all the complaints about in-flight safety, none ruffles more feathers than the infamous "Turn off all electronic devices" rule. Sure, it makes sense that you can't be on your cellphone. No good can come from having air traffic controller instructions to the pilot being intercut with bursts of your yenta of a mother nagging you about not calling enough. That seems like something that could totally happen. But what's the harm in getting in a little Angry Birds time while you taxi on the runway?
Seriously, can anyone answer that question? What sort of catastrophe will firing up your Kindle actually lead to? That's all we want to know. Here's the thing, though. Apparently, even the airlines aren't completely sure what harm lies in using your Sony Discman while on the runway (other than the obvious harm to your reputation that comes from still using a portable CD player like the 2000s never even existed).
Seriously, just cut those wrists.
Most of the explanations boil down to six simple words: Something might but probably won't happen. It's true that all wireless devices emit radio waves that could, in theory, interfere with computer controls in the cockpit. There's even one recorded instance of a laptop causing the autopilot on a plane to disengage. When that happened, the airline actually bought the laptop from the passenger so they could study it. Despite repeated attempts, they were never able to duplicate the problem. But still, just the fact that it's possible is good enough reasoning for me. People win the lottery all the time. I sure as shit don't want to be on the plane that wins the "Holy fuck that guy's electronic Sudoku game just caused the engine to shut down" lottery.
So why don't they just say that instead of being so vague about the issue? If airlines want people to stop bitching about this seemingly pointless rule, all they need to do is tell us why it's a rule in the first place. It would be as simple as changing the "Please turn off all electronic devices" line from the safety video to "Please turn off all electronic devices or else this entire fucking plane might fall from the sky and turn into a fireball of death that will kill everyone on board and several people on the ground." Maybe follow it up with a shot of an actual plane crash. If that doesn't get Alec Baldwin to stop playing Word With Friends, nothing will.
#4. How Reclining Your Seat Will Result in the Person Behind You Wishing You Were Dead
OK, so this probably doesn't apply to people in first class. In fact, nothing applies to people in first class. Those people are rich, and therefore live well above the laws and constraints of the common man. But if you're flying coach, understand this ... just because your seat is capable of reclining doesn't mean it's a feature you should take advantage of.
Flight safety videos briefly touch on the subject of reclining seats, but what they fail to mention is "Hey, asshole, I'm working with six inches of personal space back here, sit upright or I will cut your throat with the plastic knife from my $17 tapas snack box." And for that sentence, I've probably been added to every no-fly list imaginable. But I don't care, because someone needs to talk to these people.
Fine, this representation of me when I had more hair will do it.
What benefit are you getting from putting your seat back in the reclining position? It moves like four centimeters. And what, now you're comfortable enough to sleep? That barely noticeable alteration of posture was the deciding factor in whether or not you could take a nap? Of course not. You're not reclining for comfort. There's nothing comfortable about flying coach, reclining seats or otherwise. No, you're reclining because you're a self-centered prick who doesn't respect your fellow passengers. Flying coach is a mutually shitty situation for everyone involved. It's already so cramped that most people would just opt to die of a heart attack rather than go through the hassle of trying to contort their body into a position that would allow them to fish their nitroglycerin pills out of the carry-on bag stowed underneath the seat in front of them. Why would you worsen the situation by reclining and therefore taking up even more space?
I know it's a long shot, but I believe airlines would be doing us all a huge favor by mentioning this in their flight safety videos. Maybe just a simple reminder that, yes, you are technically able to recline your seat, but it's intensely aggravating to the people behind you, so maybe consider not doing it. Perhaps they could follow it up with a warning that the air marshal may not reach you in time to keep the person whose lap you've been laying in for the last four hours from strangling you with a neck pillow. We would all be much happier fliers if reclining your seat in coach finally got the stigma it so rightly deserves. Bringing up this simple bit of air travel etiquette in the safety video would do just that.
#3. How Best to Enter the Restroom When Another Person Is Exiting
Mentions of the restroom in the flight safety video are mostly restricted to a stern warning that disabling the smoke alarm so you can fire up a Newport is punishable by death (I'm paraphrasing). Naturally, they don't actually show anyone smoking in the "lavatory" because that would instill confidence in passengers that maybe they could get away with it. Instead, they just give you a shot of a person exiting the restroom, smiling from ear to ear, most likely because they avoided being sucked through the toilet when flushing it. Don't even pretend you don't worry about that when you fly.
But anyone who has ever used an airline restroom knows that exiting with a smile on your face is not likely to happen. Sure, you might initially be smiling, but that smile will fade when you realize that another person is waiting to enter and the two of you must now figure out how to pass each other without one of you literally sitting on another passenger's lap. It's not like the aisles are designed for maximum maneuverability. Hell, if the flight attendant is bringing the drink cart down the aisle, you'd have an easier time getting to one of the wings than getting back to your seat. The maximum number of people who can comfortably walk down the aisle of an airplane is approximately one half. Maybe an entire person, but only if you have a severe eating disorder.
You're now free to move about the cabin.
This problem is compounded when two people are trying to enter and exit the restroom. Assuming you're using the coach bathroom at the back of the plane, which you are, because you're poor, you really only have one option. The person exiting has to step back and stand in that forbidden zone where all of the flight attendants hang out, which ultimately results in them shooting you a look on par with a guard in a prison tower noticing a person wearing orange when all the inmates are supposed to be locked down in their cells. Either that, or you both put your backs to either side of the aisle and try to slide past each other, in which case you might as well just strip and have intercourse. You're touching genitals anyway, might as well make it official.
Call me crazy, but I think after all these years of being in business, someone in the airline industry has to have mastered a technique to make this exchange a little easier to navigate. Like a little hip pivot or something that magically frees all involved to freely pass without rubbing crotches or putting their ass in some unlucky passenger's face. Undoubtedly, this secret has to have been passed around and become a trade secret by now. So please, put that shit in the flight safety video and let us all in on the fun instead of making fun of us as we struggle to move in that flying prison cell that you call coach.