The SAS in-flight safety video

Each time I see the SAS in-flight safety video, I am amused by the story they tell about each of their "characters".

The safety video features four groups of travellers, a man and a young girl, a retired couple, a (very Scandinavian-looking) businesswoman, and a (vaguely Hispanic) young man.

Each procedure is illustrated one of the four travelling groups. How to buckle your seat belt is illustrated by the man and young girl; the girl can't figure out how the buckle works. (Unbuckling is demonstrated by the retired gentleman.)

When it's time to turn off electronic devices, a flight attendant politely asks the businesswoman to put away her laptop computer.

When passengers are reminded that smoking is not permitted, the single guy frustratedly puts his pack of cigarettes away.

The retired gentleman has to be reminded to return his seat to the upright position.

The young girl takes a look at the flight safety summary card, but holds it upside-down.

Okay, so what have we learned: Young girls are unbelievably stupid. I mean, sure maybe she's too young to read, but certainly she should know how to hold the (pictographic) safety card right-side up, no? Watch out for those Hispanic guys, they want to smoke.

After landing, we see each of the travelling groups as they get off the plane. The retired couple light up with joy as they hug their adult children who came to meet them at the airport. The businesswoman meets her business partner with a friendly handshake. Mom welcomes the man and daughter with hugs and kisses. And the single guy just wanders off on his own.

He's probably looking for a smoking area.

The other thing I find amusing about the safety video is that after it is completed in English, the video is played a second time (heavily abbreviated) with Danish subtitles. "Okay, those slow Americans had to get the long version. Now here's the quick version for you clever Danes."

Comments (13)
  1. Joel Spolsky says:

    While we’re talking about SAS…

    Why do they never have decent business class seats? Is it some kind of latent Scandinavian egalitarianism? ("We’ll be happy to take more money from businessmen and movie stars but we absolutely refuse to give them special treatment, because all humans are equal") For puddle hops from Oslo to Heathrow it’s no big deal, but I would never fly SAS on long haul flights for this reason.

  2. Luis says:

    Actually, the business class are a bit wider, and a small (really small) curtain is pulled so you cannot see from behind. But this is the same in most European short trips in small planes. I have actually travelled Lufthansa in short trips and small planes (without any special business seats), but Munich to Frankfurt in a 3-2-3 arrangement or Frankfurt to South America they have all the niceties.

  3. Jojjo says:

    Actually, I think you are viewing these videos from a very American perspective. Scandinavia doesn’t have the same history with racial struggle and interracial violence as America. Analyzing society in terms of race is not something we are used to. In fact, I can’t even think of a Swedish translation to Hispanic. Therefore, it is quite possible that the young man wasn’t put in the video as a token hispanic man but that his race was just a coincidence. The businesswoman however, thats another story…

  4. Seth McCarus says:

    The thing I like best about SAS is the food. Love that salmon and pickled herring!

  5. KC Lemson says:

    I had the misfortune of flying SAS while I was pregnant. I wasn’t able to eat any of the meals due to the odd fishies, and me not being sure of their mercury content. It wasn’t all bad, though… I did very much enjoy playing backgammon for 6 hours. Very smart of them.

  6. Raymond Chen says:

    Even without the racial overtones to the Hispanic guy, I found it mildly noteworthy that the dodgy single guy got tagged for all the unpleasant bits.

  7. Clint says:

    I think you’ll find that it’s not just Americans who may take advantage of the English version of the video.

  8. Chris says:

    On a related note, the Al-Italia safety video is a hoot to watch. The animated video has sounds effects for almost everything–the oxygen masks, clicking in the seat belt, un-reclining the seats….And then you see the demonstration of the air sickness bag.

    No, there’s no sound effect but you easily reach the enthymematic conclusion. Actually, the first time I saw it, my friend and I were almost yelling at the screen as we saw the character lift the bag up to their mouth.

  9. llyd says:

    Heh o… There are *very nice* biz seats on intercontinental SAS flights. Intra-European, it’s a bit varied due to different aircraft types (the A321 is good, MDs not so good). Intra-scandinavian, no biz class at all.

    And you know, Scandinavians in general have very good knowledge of English, and as such, the danes already got the message the first time around. Subs added for hearing-impaired and elderly people.

    The "race-issue" in the video is not an exercise in prejudice, more like an embracement of any type of people.

    Although, I guess in the US, the airline would be sued to tatters’n’rags.

  10. Petr Kadlec says:

    It’s interesting, I’ve recently flown with Travel Service (a small czech charter company) and their safety instruction video is in czech+english (interleaved, each topic is in czech first, then english, then next topic czech, etc.). In this video, the english version was shorter than the czech. Should that mean we are even less clever than those slow Americans? :-o

    Well, I hope not, it is only similar to a similar situation on the airport, where all announcements were given in czech first, in style of "Czech Airlines flight number 1234, Alitalia 4567 from Milano has landed, gate number 12", then in english only "Czech Airlines 1234, Alitalia 4567" — that’s all. Probably those not speaking czech either know from where all the flights come and which gate should they go to, or are not interested at all… :-)

  11. Actually we just think that Czech speak is very verbose…

  12. Raymond Chen says:

    Commenting on this article has been closed.

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