New Qantas safety video draws fierce criticism
Qantas has unveiled a new in-flight safety video, with crew and frequent flyers taking passengers around the world – but not everyone is happy about it.
The video will replace the Qantas Centenary-themed video that has screened before take-off since 2020.
The idea of the video is exploring people’s “magic place”.
For Louise, a Qantas employee from Darwin, her magic place is Litchfield National Park. For Mel, a customer service manager and Mike, a pilot, their family’s special destination is Freycinet, Tasmania.
In addition to other Qantas workers appearing in the video, like Nestor, who works in the Qantas First-Class lounge in Sydney, Qantas frequent flyers also feature, all while the safety instructions are given.
The video stretches over nine minutes and 33 seconds – which many online have criticised as too long for a safety video, while also expressing sympathy for frequent flyers who will have to sit through it.
The ad will begin to roll out this week – there are 75 versions of it and it features 12 different languages.
However, Teri O’Toole, federal secretary of Flight Attendants Association of Australia, is not impressed with the change.
Qantas video doesn’t hone in on key message
Speaking to The New Daily, she said the ad was “terrific”, and she admitted to being somewhat invested in the stories it told – but said it simply wasn’t an effective video.
A safety video should be about safety and should clearly communicate to passengers what to do if there was an emergency, O’Toole said.
“It should be, ‘This is what you need to do’,” she said.
“Where’s your life jacket? Oh, it’s under your seat, it’s not in Cabo [San Lucas], Mexico.”
She said it was disappointing that the new video featured no footage of crew in uniform, nor did it clearly say “in the event of an emergency, follow the crew member’s instructions”.
Neglecting to communicate that was particularly jarring for O’Toole, given the recent emergency with a Japan Airlines plane collided on a runway with a smaller plane. All 379 people on board escaped the burning plane alive – which has been credited by many to the deft work of its crew.
O’Toole said crew members were the first responders in an on-board emergency.
“I can’t see anything in that video that assists a cabin crew as a first responder to do their role,” she said.
The FAAA was not consulted about its members’ concerns in their job, nor on the video, O’Toole said.
“We don’t want to be critical of Qantas,” she said.
“But these things are important so that crew go to work and can do their job. The more explanation of safety that they can get in a video, then the easier their job is when they need to direct passengers.”
FAAA’s Teri O’Toole thinks the Qantas video is a disservice to crew.
The wrong messaging
At the end of the video, a Qantas pilot named Vanessa is seen at the beach – and O’Toole wanted to also call attention to that as a double standard.
Vanessa is shown wearing a swimsuit. O’Toole said she felt Qantas’s choice to feature a female pilot in her bathers did not send the right message.
“I certainly didn’t see a male pilot dressed as Tony Abbott in a pair of budgie-smugglers,” she said.
Pilots are highly regarded not just within the industry, but broadly within the community and every passenger puts their life in the pilot’s hands every time they step on a plane.
But the profession has been historically dominated by men. While strides towards equality are emerging, O’Toole believes the video sends us back 50 years.
In a press release, Qantas chief customer officer Catriona Larritt said the video was meant to promote tourism as well as in-flight safety.
“We are proud to feature our own well-travelled team members and customers, to not only deliver the safety message but also promote travel and tourism by inspiring people to explore destinations they may not have experienced throughout Australia and beyond,” she said.
Larritt also said the idea was to make the video engaging for regular flyers so they did not tune out.
However, O’Toole questioned whether Qantas was really in touch with the public, given many are struggling to make ends meet, so probably aren’t craving aspirational content.
“It’d be lovely to be aspirational and be able to fly to Rome to have lunch, or go to Seoul to get married; all of those things are great,” she said.
“But right now, this is going to be shown on domestic flights. We have a wonderful country in Australia – if we’re going to promote Australia, why didn’t we promote more of our wonderful places?”