October 12, 2013



Remember when air travel used to be fun? You know, back in the days before you were poked, prodded and wanded prior to boarding. When airline staff gave a damn and, even though the food in coach sucked, the rubber chicken was free. Sadly, that trip is now limited to those flying nostalgia class.

But wait! There are some beacons of hope out there in the unfriendly skies. Airlines that go the extra mile and at least try to make something tolerable out of flying in a big toothpaste tube with wings. In most cases, a passport will be required because we all know US domestic carriers aren’t exactly tearing it up when it comes to excellence in customer service.

Personally, I’m all about travel foreplay. You know, the tender caress of the airport lounge. The warm snuggle of a genuine smile when you board. That happy feeling you get when you watch a really good in-flight safety video. Yes, I said safety video. I bet you think they’re all that dull background noise you ignore while you pray the big bird doesn’t go down. Think again!

Here are three examples of airlines that turned the functional into fabulous. Remain seated and enjoy!

Portugal is a lovely country full of beautiful scenery and wonderful people…and I’m not just saying that because I'm half Portuguese. What I love about this video from TAP (aside from the wacky Austin Powers-esque music bed) is that everyone featured is an actual passenger. This is the first time any airline has used real people in a safety video. Plus, if the guy who points out the emergency exits was sitting next to me, I’d be one happy flier.

Air New Zealand has a reputation for creating irreverent and elaborate in-flight safety videos. Last week they launched their most buzzed about production to date. Why all the fuss? Betty White is the star! Not only is the video funny, it’s further proof that White pretty much rules the world. The two flight attendants featured (and credited, nice touch) are easy on the eyes and, yes, that’s Gavin McLeod doing a clever cameo. Why? Who cares! It all adds up to yet another reason to hop on a plane and visit the country everyone loves.

I’ve saved the craziest for last. Thailand is very special to me. It’s a country I’ve had the pleasure of visiting twice and both trips were transformational experiences. It's a magical place. That’s why I love this over-the-top production from regional carrier Bangkok Airways (a lovely airline I have flown). You really have to see it to believe it and then watch it again just to make sure you really saw what you think you saw. It opens and closes with an all singing, all dancing, all badly lip synced musical extravaganza that defies logic and basic principles of choreography. Of course, that’s what makes it so wonderful.