But as fun and eye-catching as these videos are, the airline has learned that it still can’t force passengers to watch them. Or can it?
On a recent flight from Wellington to Auckland, a female passenger was allegedly removed from the plane by police for failing to watch the inflight safety video.
A police spokesperson told Newshub that “the passenger will receive an infringement notice under Civil Aviation Authority rules relating to the use of a cellphone.”
According to reports, the woman was seated in the exit row but ignored flight attendants’ requests to pay attention. Said one witness: “A flight attendant said very patiently ‘Can you please watch what’s happening because this is the exit row?’ The flight attendant was super kind and kept asking her, but the woman put her fingers in her ears.”
The pilot eventually was forced to turn the plane around and return to the gate prior to takeoff, at which point the woman was escorted off the aircraft.
Despite the woman’s obvious disregard for her safety and those around her, the news prompted renewed backlash against Air New Zealand’s Hollywood-esque videos. Another passenger on the flight who reportedly spoke to the Herald had some choice words for the airline:
“I have to say that if watching the safety video is so crucial and you can be escorted off the plane, maybe Air New Zealand should stop making ‘Rachel Hunter ice cream ad’ safety videos. Just make a short video that is compulsory to watch and let people know if they don’t watch the video, the police will come and take them away,” said the passenger.
New Zealand First MP Shane Jones is also a critic, calling the carrier’s previous safety ‘rap’ video, which was performed by Kiwi artists and set to the tune of Run DMC’s 80s hit, ‘It’s Tricky’, a “juvenile mish-mash” that trivializes safety.
“Tourists are confused. They can’t hear it. It’s a lame attempt at entertainment and it’s a type of entertainment that’s toneless. It’s cringe culture, really,” he said.
The rap video caused so much controversy that Air New Zealand was forced to axe it less than six months after its debut.