The new Air New Zealand in-flight safety video that made me cringe

Published on: October 19, 2013 | Last Updated on October 7, 2020
Air New Zealand in-flight Safety Video

Perhaps when we reach the age of 50, we’re just a bit more sensitive to ageism when we see it.

The beloved 91-year-old comedian Betty White has a new starring role in the latest Air New Zealand in-flight safety video. I don’t think it’s one of her finest performances.

It seems like just a few years ago that safety instructions were “live acts” on most airplanes. (Some smaller carriers still do that.) But this safety video is filmed at the fictional “Second Wind Retirement Resort,” starring White and a cast of older characters (including the Love Boat’s Gavin MacLeod) acting out flight safety instructions.

Watching this video, which has gone viral on YouTube with more than a million hits, made me cringe. It pokes fun at sight, hearing, mobility and memory impairments—as well as age.

This isn’t the first heroic attempt to use humor to get passengers to pay attention to in-flight safety instructions, which, admittedly, can be pretty boring. But this is the first I’ve seen that does so at the expense of one particular group of passengers.

The provocative video called “Safety Old School Style” was called “hilarious” on the well-respected travel site, Gadling, whose reviewer didn’t seem to find anything wrong with this portrayal.

Take a peek at the Air New Zealand in-flight video and let me know what you think:

I have never flown this airline and only learned about the Air New Zealand in-flight video because it was mentioned by Ronni Bennett, creator of the wonderful blog called, Time Goes By, who asked her readers whether it was ageist or cheeky.

  • What do you think of its portrayal over-50 flyers?
  • Do you think it’s sending the right message to our children and grandchildren?
  • Reply
    Cathy Sweeney
    October 19, 2013 at 9:47 pm

    Irene, I need to step back and think about this one a bit. Usually, I’ve got a very low tolerance for anything smacking of ageism, but for some reason I’m not feeling too much about this. Maybe I should be! I’d really prefer that age was never used to make points about issues that are ageless. Obviously, air safety is not just a senior issue, so I guess it does seem unfair in that regard. It would have been easy enough to single out any age group and poke fun at their stereotypes.

    Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Food for thought!

  • Reply
    [email protected]
    October 20, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I agree with Cathy S. that the NJ ad isn’t that offensive. I noticed this is just one of many different ads to get across the safety message. If the airline would’ve asked how they could improve this ad, my advise would be to blend in stereotypical jokes about a variety of age groups in the ad.

  • Reply
    October 20, 2013 at 12:19 pm

    I actually loved it!!!

  • Reply
    Jerry Nelson
    October 21, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I loved it also! The rest of you politically correct, thin skinned people, well, get a freakin’ life and get over it!

  • Reply
    Debra Borchert
    October 22, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I hope these seniors are Screen Actors Guild members and they made a lot of $. Although poking fun at seniors, I recently received a free cup of coffee at Wendy’s (Arhg!), I was glad to see them working. They probably had a lot of fun filming it, too.

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