Is there any reason that airlines couldn't ditch the pre-flight safety demonstration?

Besides legislative requirements, of course.

I recently flew down to Sydney to visit some museums and, as I sat there reading my Bill Bryson book and only half-listening to the same pre-flight safety demonstration I’ve heard on every flight I’ve ever been on since I started travelling as a kid, I realised that most of the other passengers on the flight, like me, appeared to be reasonably experienced travellers who’d seen the same demonstration several times before.

I’ve often wondered if, given the chance, airlines would stop bothering with the pre-flight safety demonstration?

“Hands up everyone who’s flown before? You know how it all works if things go pear-shaped. Everyone else, there’s an information card in the pocket in front of you. Have a nice flight; we’ll be serving drinks and snacks shortly”.

Overlooking the Tyler Durden viewpoint on the whole thing, I don’t think anyone actually pays that much attention to the safety demonstrations anyway- a view that’s evidently common enough to have been made the subject of humour by both Douglas Adams and Weird Al Yankovic (amongst others).

So, why do they bother, besides the fact they’re legally required to?

They do it because if they don’t and something happens and someone screwed up fastening thier seatbelt the airline gets sued into oblivion. It is all about the money. Sure, everyone knows this stuff but like any company they have to CYA over everything.

In the U.S. I don’t believe there is a choice.

Under FAR 135.117, which applies to airlines, the pilot-in-command (PIC) must ensure that the passengers have been orally briefed about smoking, use of safety belts, seats upright, exits, survival equipment, overwater operations, oxygen if above FL12, and fire extinguishers.

Note that it says “ensure”, not that the PIC has to do it personally. That’s why the flight attendents can give the briefing.

However, under Part 91.519 the PIC need not give the briefing if it can be determined that the passengers are familiar with the information. But that regulation refers to privately owned aircraft of certain types, not airlines.

If this were the case, why do governments make it mandatory? :rolleyes:

I’m pretty sure that the government mandated that the airlines include all the various safety features in their aircraft in the first place, so it’s not such a huge stretch that the airlines would also be mandated to tell people about them. I mean, stuff like oxygen masks are not exactly standard safety equipment on most vehicles.

Sure, most (> 90%) have heard it before. In fact about half might be on return trips, and have heard it just a few days before, or, if on a second leg, just hours before. But what does it hurt? Some people might be vacationers who haven’t flown for a long time. The most useful part of it, in my opinion, is the instruction to leave your damn bag behind if you have to evacuate.

I use this as a cue to look for the closest exit, which is helpful. Besides that, I have no trouble tuning it out. This ranks very near the bottom on my airline annoyance list.

I got the “safety lecture” on a little four-seater bush plane in Alaska.

Pretty funny, too. “The exit is right there against your elbow. That’s the handle. Also, I know your seat belt is buckled because I did it myself. And you’re free to try to use your cell phone but good luck getting a signal out here.” :slight_smile:

The funny ones are the only ones I ever listen to. I had a flight attendant once who started with a Douglas Adamsey quip (“Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. This is Random Airline’s Flight 123 to Newark. If your plans today do not include Newark, this would be a perfect time to disembark.”) and went on to do the whole safety spiel punctuated with jokes and audience participation. Terribly more effective than the prerecorded videos they’re doing nowadays.

I remember the last few times I flew, they had done away with some of the crazier things like demonstrating how to use a seat belt (place the small metal flap into the buckle) and they didn’t grill the poor shmuck sitting in an emergency exit row about whether or not he was physically capable of doing it.

Also they quit asking the three stupid questions at check in. I think it is just all indicitive of modern society, style over substance, creating the illusion of security and safety to make a handful of people who haven’t jerked off in a long time to feel some sense of order in this world. It serves no purpose otherwise…

And that’s the one thing about the whole process I agree with. Most aircraft accidents occur during takeoffs and landings. Duh, that’s when the plane is closest to the ground. You need someone physically capable of operating the exit door and with the capacity to hear and understand the flight attendants instructions. I do not need a physically handicapped geriatric Tagalog speaker trying to understand the situation and figure out how to work the door from the pictures.

I know how to work a seatbelt. I need the guy in the exit row to know how to work the door, and when to open the door. Asking her/him a few simple questions is the only way to sort out people who will nod “yes” to any question they are asked.

Southwest used to be wonderful about joking around with the announcement.

“This is a seatbelt. If you don’t know how to fasten it, you probably shouldn’t be travelling unsupervised.”

I think the question to ask is: Flight attendant Dopers, how many times even after you gave the safety spiel has some little old grandmother flagged you down as you were doing the pre-flight check to ask “How do I buckle this thing?”

Frontier attendants used to do it funny, too. “For those of you who haven’t been in a car since 1957, this is a seatbelt.” Etc.

When sat there, I’ve encountered a far more appropriate, yet still effective, method of checking the same thing. One of the cabin crew pointed the exit out and asked ‘whether I felt comfortable being able to operate it, or would prefer to sit elsewhere’. Gave me the opt-out without having to go into medical detail, and also gives somebody who would simply rather not take that responsibility for whatever reason a chance to move.

I was on a flight that included two legs. I got the safety talk at the beginning, we flew the first leg, everyone but me got off, no one got on, and then we flew the second leg with just me on board. The attendant did the whole spiele again while I read my book.

Name the source of this quote:

Roz Russell, Night Court season 8, “Crossroads Part 1”

I wish they would , fly Canadian and get it in both languages.


I loved flying Southwest for this very reason. After touchdown on one flight, the attendant was so funny with the announcements (dissing the pilots) that she got a round of applause and cheers.

That being said, I ALWAYS listen to the instructions and review the emergency card; if I’m lucky enough to survive the initial crash, I want that information at the front of my brain… I’m getting off the aircraft if I have to go through other passengers or the side of the airplane. If there is only ONE survivor it’s going to be ME!

Hey, you’ll have to fight me for the privilege. I never board an airplane without considering if the shoes I’m wearing are the ones I’d wear to walk through twisted aluminum and burning jet fuel. No synthetic fabrics, ever. The people who tend to survive these things are the ones who plan in advance. I count the rows to the exit so I can find it in the smoke, and figure out which passengers will be most likely to clog the exits by dithering at the top of the slide.

Preach on brother!! Just the thought of nylon/synthetic tennis shoes melting /burning/sticking to my feet makes me cringe!