You know the routine: the last dilatory passenger has finally taken their seat and now the cabin crew are going to recite the safety briefing. Most of us tune out because we’ve heard it before, but few really know what those familiar words, repeated either in a bored monotone by an under-paid flight attendant or presented in a New Whizzy Colorful Humor-Packed Video on the tiny screen in front of you, truly mean.
So here’s the translation of that too-familiar pre-flight safety briefing. It’s likely not what you expected.
Flight Safety Briefing: “Welcome aboard our XXX flight YYY. In order to ensure your safety we ask you to please pay attention to this safety briefing.”
Translation: “Thank god you bought a ticket. It’s a super-competitive business and every dollar counts. Now, for reasons none of us understand, we’re going to waste your time by telling you things that are just plain silly.”
Flight Safety Briefing: “This aircraft is equipped with X doors. Two are the front of the aircraft, four are over the wings, and two are at the rear. In the event of an emergency floor illumination will guide you to your nearest exit.”
Translation: “In the event of an emergency we know 10% of you will panic and get in everyone else’s way. None of you will even notice the floor illumination. You’ll be scrambling over each other, pushing and shoving and screaming. Seriously, you expect anyone to notice little floor lights in that kind of chaos?”
Flight Safety Briefing: “In the event of needing to make an emergency exit please leave your belongings in the overhead bins and under the seat in front of you.”
Translation: “We know you’ll get everyone killed trying to pull your fat wheely-bag out of the overhead locker as the flames lick up your legs and the smoke chokes you to death. We’d love for this not to be true, but we’ve read the accident reports. What is wrong with you people anyway?”
Flight Safety Briefing: “In the event of a water landing you will find a life jacket under your seat.”
Translation: “In the event of a water landing the aircraft will break up into hundreds of pieces and you’ll be killed instantly. Only three aircraft have ever survived a water landing and those were all on very shallow calm surfaces very close to land. That life jacket we just told you about will be as useful as a marshmallow inside an erupting volcano. ”
Flight Safety Briefing: “If needed, oxygen masks will deploy from the overhead panels above you. Please be sure to secure your own mask in place before helping others. Place the mask over your nose and mouth, then pull firmly on the cord. Oxygen will flow to your mask although the bag will not inflate.”
Translation: “We could tell you one useful fact, which is that the oxygen is supplied by means of two chemicals combining to release O2 and there will be a slight smell of burning, don’t be alarmed, this means the chemical reaction is working properly. Instead we won’t mention this at all, so many of you will pull off your masks because you’ll assume something is wrong. Personally I think this is hilarious.”
Flight Safety Briefing: “In the event of an emergency landing please adopt the safety position shown on the safety card in the seatback pocket in front of you.”
Translation: “We know from actual incidents that the illustrated safety position will guarantee your death by means of exposing your weakest vertebra to the maximum impact force, thus snapping your spinal column. We know the only true safety position is to get your feet up on the seatback in front of you, cross your arms over your thighs, and rest your head against your forearms. But we also know that you’re all too fat to be able to do this, and besides we’ve shrunk the gap between seats so much over the last twenty years that you’d need to be child-sized in order to accomplish it anyway. We could make one simple change to massively improve your chances of surviving a crash landing, which is to turn the seats round the other way. But our market research folk tell us you’d stop flying on our aircraft because you’re dumb as f*ck. So good luck!”
Flight Safety Briefing: “That concludes our safety briefing.”
Translation: “Yes, yes, yes, we’ll be bringing the alcoholic drinks round just as soon as we’ve reached cruising altitude. For god’s sake, can’t you even wait ten minutes?”