Pre-flight safety demonstration

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A Royal Australian Air Force Aircraftswoman demonstrating the use of an oxygen mask during a pre-flight safety demonstration on board an Australian Airbus A330 MRTT

The pre-flight safety briefing (also known as a pre-flight demonstration, in-flight safety briefing, in-flight safety demonstration, safety instructions, or simply the safety video) is a detailed explanation given before take-off to airline passengers about the safety features of the aircraft they are aboard.

Aviation regulations do not state how an airline should deliver the briefing, only that ‘The operator of an aircraft shall ensure that all passengers are orally briefed before each take-off’.[1] As a result, and depending on the inflight entertainment system in the aircraft, as well as the airline’s policy, airlines may deliver a pre-recorded briefing or provide a live demonstration. A live demonstration is performed by a flight attendant/s standing up in the aisle/s, while another flight attendant narrates over the public address system. A pre-recorded briefing may feature audio only, or may take the form of a video (audio plus visual). Pre-flight safety briefings typically last two to six minutes. In consideration for travelers not speaking the airline's official language and for the passengers with hearing problems, the video may feature subtitles, an on-screen signer, or may be repeated in another language.

Some safety videos are made using three-dimensional graphics.[2] Other videos were made to be humorous, or feature celebrities, or were based on popular movies. Many safety videos were uploaded to YouTube.[3][4] Cebu Pacific choreographed the entire demonstration to Lady Gaga's "Just Dance" and Katy Perry's "California Gurls" as an experiment during one of their flights.[5] The flight attendant featured in the most recent Delta Air Lines video has become an internet celebrity known as Deltalina.

In an emergency, flight attendants are trained to calmly instruct passengers how to respond, given the type of emergency. Research conducted at the University of New South Wales Australia questions the effectiveness of these briefings in conveying key safety messages for passengers to recall and act upon in an emergency.[6] In one study, a range of pre-recorded safety briefings were tested. One safety briefing contained humour, another was void of humour (said to reflect a standard style briefing), and another used a celebrity to sell the importance of the safety briefing and the messages contained within. Not long after being exposed to the briefing, individuals recalled approximately 50% of the key safety messages from the briefing featuring the celebrity, 45% from the briefing containing humour, and 32% from the briefing void of both a celebrity and humour. Two hours post exposure to the pre-flight safety briefings, recall decreased on average by 4% from the original levels across all conditions.

Required elements[edit]

Airlines are required to orally brief their passengers before each take-off.[7][8] This requirement is set by their nations civil aviation authority, under the recommendation of the International Civil Aviation Organization. All airline safety videos are subtitled or shown secondarily in English as it is the lingua franca of aviation and sometimes it's subtitled with the primary language of the country the airline is based in or the language of the city where the plane originates or flies to. This is up to the airline, but most (if not all) elect to do this through a safety briefing or demonstration delivered to all passengers at the same time. A safety demonstration typically covers all these aspects, not necessarily in this order:

  • demonstrating or telling passengers that the safety card shows the brace position and must be adopted on hearing the "Brace Brace" command during an emergency landing. (sometimes called the safety position) (not required in the United States and certain other countries)
  • the use of the seat belt. Some airlines recommend or require that passengers keep their seatbelt fastened at all times in case of unexpected turbulence.
  • the requirement that passengers must comply with lighted signs, posted placards, and crew members instructions (Generally only included in safety demonstrations on Australian, New Zealand, and American carriers as the CASA (AU), CAA (NZ) and FAA (US) require it to be stated). Most other airlines only include the seatbelt and no smoking signs.
  • the location and use of the emergency exits, evacuation slides and emergency floor lighting
    • that all passengers should locate their nearest exit, which may be behind them
  • the requirements for sitting in an emergency exit row (varies by country and airline), in the United States it must also be stated that exit row passengers may be required to assist the crew in an evacuation.
  • that all passengers must leave all carry on bags behind during an evacuation
  • the use of the oxygen mask (not included on some turboprops which do not fly high enough to need supplemental oxygen in a decompression emergency) with associated reminders:
    • that the passenger should always fit his or her own mask on before helping children, the disabled, or persons requiring assistance.
    • that even though oxygen will be flowing to the mask, the plastic bag may not inflate (required in the United States after a woman fatally removed her mask thinking it was not working). Some planes such as the Boeing 787 do not include plastic bags in the oxygen masks.
    • On some planes, if there is a strap, the passenger must pull down on the strap to retrieve the mask.
  • the location and use of the life vests, life rafts and flotation devices (not always included if the flight does not overfly or fly near vast masses of water although is required by the FAA (US) on any aircraft equipped with life vests)
  • the use of passenger seat cushions as flotation devices (typically only included on aircraft that do not provide life vests)
  • reminders -
    • that smoking is not allowed on board, including in the lavatories (some airlines, including the US on all Domestic flights and international flights going to and from the US,[9] also ban electronic cigarettes[10]).
    • that US federal law prohibits tampering with, disabling or destroying lavatory smoke detectors
    • that the use of mobile phones is not allowed during flight, unless placed in "airplane mode" or the wireless capability is turned off
    • that laptops and other electronics may only be used once the aircraft is at cruising altitude and the Captain turns off the fasten seat-belt sign.
    • that passengers must ask a flight attendant prior to using electronics
    • that seatbacks and tray tables should be in their upright and locked position, headrest stowed, and carry-on luggage stowed in the overhead locker or underneath a seat prior to takeoff.
      • and in most cases, if seated next to a window, the window blinds must be raised for take off and landing. The Boeing 787 does not have window blinds as the windows can be dimmed, however, the windows may sometimes not be dimmed during take off and landing.
    • to review the safety information card prior to takeoff or to follow along during the demonstration.


  1. ^ Civil Aviation Safety Authority. (2009). Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) 20.11. Canberra, Australia: Author.
  2. ^ "TAM." Pixel Labs. Retrieved on February 25, 2009.
  3. ^ Montgomery, Bill. "Who needs clothes in an airline safety video?." Houston Chronicle. June 30, 2009. Retrieved on July 21, 2009.
  4. ^ "Nudity, cartoons grab air travelers' attention." CNN. Friday July 31, 2009. Retrieved on August 26, 2009.
  5. ^ "This will keep the seat backs in an upright position: Cabin crew perform in-flight safety demo... while dancing to Lady Gaga." Daily Mail. October 3, 2010. Retrieved on December 3, 2010.
  6. ^ Molesworth, B. R. C. (2014). Examining the Effectiveness of Pre-Flight Cabin Safety Announcements in Commercial Aviation. International Journal of Aviation Psychology, 24(4), 300-314.
  7. ^ Civil Aviation Safety Authority. (2009). Civil Aviation Orders (CAO) 20.11. Canberra, Australia: Author.
  8. ^ Federal Aviation Administration. (2014). Federal Aviation Regulations (FAR) 14 CFR Section 135.117. Washington, DC: Author.
  9. ^ [1]
  10. ^

External links[edit]

Media related to Pre-flight safety demonstration at Wikimedia Commons

List of Airline safety videos[edit]