Let's Take A Closer Look

Explaining complicated subject matter simply since 1986.

Enough With the Wacky Safety Videos, a recent WSJ article, tells us how it has become the norm among airlines to produce big-budget safety videos, and how customers are reacting to this phenomenon. Airlines, emphasizing entertainment over information, think these new videos are clever and amusing. Passengers are likelier to find them annoying and a senseless waste of money. Seasoned travelers ignore them because they already know how to fasten their seat belts. Scott McCartney’s excellent article is the Trigger Issue, the one that gets people thinking more about a particular subject. This thinking leads to identification of the Bigger Issue, which in this case is the message itself and how it’s delivered.

Let’s challenge the assumption that a single safety message can be best for every passenger.

One size fits all was never true. Actually, it’s One Size Fits No One Well. While we’re at it, let’s imagine an Even Bigger Issue than that, where the airlines join the information age, and your next flight goes something like this:

  • A sensor notices as you sit down in your seat and turns on the Welcome Screen…
  • Welcome, Mr. Lindbergh, to Flight 123 from NY to LA. 
  • (If you’re not Mr. Lindbergh, please press here.)
  • We are on time for our 10:00 departure and anticipate an on time arrival at LAX at 3:00.
  • Please chose a safety video to watch now. 
  • (Here the screen shows choices that might look something like this: This is my first flight. I’ve flown a few times. I’ve flown dozens of times. I’m a Road Warrior.) Each choice triggers a different safety video.
  • Etc.

And what if instead of producing extravaganzas, airlines started with Even Bigger Issues and asked simple but important questions such as:

  • What do passengers need and want?
  • Which things work best from passengers’ perspectives?
  • How can we target seatback messages at the individual passenger level?

We have their Credit Cards, Passports, Driver’s Licenses, Frequent Flier Statuses, E-mail Addresses, Phone Numbers, Meal Preferences, and so on. What things could we be doing – should we be doing – that meet their needs and exceed their expectations?

It would be far more interesting to be part of a team that defined, developed, and introduced a new level of airline-customer information sharing to the industry than to be part of a team that introduced one more me-too video. It would have more value to airline passengers, too.

Have a safe flight,

Lucky Lindy

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