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updated: 3/31/2011 12:20 PM

Do humor and safety warnings mix?

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Anyone who has flown lately probably doesn't consider air travel a laughing matter. But apparently some of the airlines are trying to change that. A recent video on YouTube recorded the safety video for Air New Zealand flights and it grabbed my attention.

The video shows a plane filled with players from All Black, New Zealand's rugby team, dressed in outlandish outfits and demonstrating the safety equipment. It ends with an elderly lady streaking down the aisle of the plane in her birthday suit -- tastefully fuzzed out -- to the amusement of the passengers. The announcement not only put passengers in a better mood, it actually got their attention, which is often lacking with most safety announcements.

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Air New Zealand isn't the only airline using humor to get their passengers attention. Virgin America features a video with cartoon characters demonstrating safety features while an announcer, with a monotone voice, makes comments like, "For the .0001 percent of you who have never operated a seat belt before, it works like this ..."

Cebu Pacific, the Philippines-based airline, has turned their safety announcement into a true dog-and-pony show. Their flight attendants dance to the music of Lady Gaga and Katy Perry while pointing out and demonstrating safety equipment. It's even choreographed.

Southwest Airlines, the granddaddy of stupid in-flight humor, started the wave. Their safety announcements have been flying round-trip flights on the Web for years. Recently they've taken to raps and songs to relay their messages. But some of their original favorites include:

• "There may be 50 ways to leave your lover, but only four ways out of this aircraft ..."

• "Sit back and relax or lean forward all twisted and scrunched up. The choice is yours."

• "To operate your seat belt, insert the metal tab into the buckle and pull tight. If you don't know how to operate one, you shouldn't be out in public unsupervised."

• "In the event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will descend from the ceiling. Stop screaming, grab the mask and pull it over your face. If you are traveling with a child, secure your mask before his. If you are traveling with two children, decide now which one you love the most."

Not everybody finds the announcements humorous.

"Security shouldn't be a laughing matter," one flight attendant said. "Crew members aren't onboard to entertain; they're here for the safety of passengers. By turning safety into live entertainment, it reduces the seriousness of the situation."

She may be right. But after years of demonstrating safety announcements to passengers who tuned me out, it's good to see passengers tuned into safety announcements -- even if it is for the enjoyment factor. I hope the one-liners keep flying. Besides entertaining, they could save some lives.

Gail Todd, a freelance writer, worked as a flight attendant for more than 30 years. She can be reached via e-mail at gailtodd@aol.com.

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