Ready for takeoff

November 09, 2018

I was on a United flight earlier this week visiting Caroline's parents in Kansas. The plane had started to taxi and I was sort of spacing out, when suddenly, a vocoded version of "under your seat there's a life vest" popped into my head.

I hadn't noticed, but they'd started the pre-flight safety check. I started reciting it, following along point-by-point in my head, like I was reciting a prayer or piece of poetry.

Except I wasn't "reciting" it, it was more of a sing-along, each section set to a distinct (and different) musical style: the life vest portion in a dubstep-sounding electronic music format, and "Just in case we must evacuate, we've got a plan of attack…four in the front, and two in the back" in Aretha Franklin/Beyoncé-style gospel.

I realized I was singing the Virgin America takeoff video. It's been at least a year since I've flown Virgin, and yet, that video is still burned into my mind.

They got me.

Yes, it's fun, and yes, it's a great brand moment. But the thing is, it also works: it's one of the few (the only?) safety briefing I can call to mind on command, which means I'll probably remember it during a real emergency, when it counts.

All because they stopped thinking so much about planes and started thinking a little more about people—their customers—just trying to get from point A to point B.