Passengers Booted from Air New Zealand Flight for Refusing to Watch the Safety Video

A woman and her travel companion were removed from Air New Zealand flight NZ424 from Wellington to Auckland for refusing to watch the airline’s safety video. They were seated in an exit row.

Really though who doesn’t want to watch the Air New Zealand safety video? I’ve even wondered if Air New Zealand should stop flying and just focus on their core safety video business.

The airline is known for its creative safety videos, though its most recent attempt was pulled from aircraft amidst criticism. It’s still on YouTube though:

Since a police spokesperson said that the woman was being cited for “the use of a cellphone” I thought that perhaps the story was being misreported — that she wasn’t actually being hauled off by law enforcement for refusing to watch the video but rather for talking on her phone after being instructed by crew not to do so. Nope. That’s not what happened at all.

“The video started playing and the flight attendant held up the card, but the woman started looking down at her book.”

She soon picked up her phone, and both she and her male travel companion were looking at their phones, she said.

“A flight attendant said very patiently ‘Can you please watch what’s happening because this is the exit row’.

“The flight attendant was super kind and kept asking her, but the woman put her fingers in her ears.”

Air New Zealand in Sydney

They weren’t talking on their phone. The woman was first reading a book instead of paying attention to safety instructions. Then she was looking at her phone. When the pilot announced they’d be returning to the gate, though, the woman did start talking on her phone — she “loudly tried to make a booking with Jetstar.”

The woman was “carrying a Louis Vuitton bag” so make of that what you will.

(HT: Tommy L.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. In the same way TSA has never caught a terrorist… the safety video has never saved any lives.

    Out of respect, I always watch the safety video, but the probability of ever needing anything in that video is infinitesimal that it is absolutely foolish to get worked up over somebody not watching it.

  2. I almost always sit in the exit row, and I always read the instruction card to make sure I know if the door comes inside or is thrown outside. Not sure what else there is to know – maybe in NZ they don’t brief the exit row? Either way, I would not want someone so stupid responsible for following crew member instructions.

  3. @B: agreed. If the pax sitting in the exit row won’t follow simple instructions to watch the safety video, how can one possibly expect her to follow other crew instructions in times of an emergency?

  4. Oh, that Kiwi Safety video is horrible. Should have never been made.

    This is why there’s high turnover in the Marketing and Advertising sectors. For good reasons.

  5. @KimmieA: because the safety video is frivolous, while the emergency is a life-threatening situation.

  6. It is because they were in an exit row and people in the exit row are expected to know what is going on in an emergency because the crew me ask them to open the emergency exits and assist in an evacuation. If someone in an exit row is unwilling or unable to perform this function then they are supposed to be moved out of the exit row. Totally fine with them being tossed off because if there was an emergency their selfishness was putting everyone else at risk. I doubt the FA would have said anything but for the fact that they were in the exit row.

  7. Awesome, awesome, awesome. An airline that actually prizes safety.

    What a start FA. I hope he or she gets some recognition.

  8. Just reseat them. How many times have we heard this over the PA: “If you are unwilling or unable to assist in an emergency, please ask a flight attendant to be reseated.”

    Air NZ is a craptastic airline, and NZ is a nanny police state. Free speech is severely hindered. God forbid you are found with that massacre video on your computer.

  9. I’m all for booting them off the plane. You sit in the Exit Row, you sign up for certain responsibilities. I always read the card and watch the video when I’m in an Exit Row (I also check under the seat to see if the life preserver handle is still there and how to get it out).

    Besides by now everyone should know that when the FA tells you to do something and you don’t do it, you’re cruisin’ for a bruisin’. I have no sympathy for those two. None at all.

  10. @Dave

    Completely agree. So many foolish and nonsensical situations like this arise because of inflexibility and triviality of flight crews who abuse their positions. These flight videos are a joke especially for opening the exit doors. No useful detail is provided so the point about exit row safety is moot. People in these rows should be handed out an instruction page that clearly details the mechanics of opening the door (lever direction, force, and etc).

    In recent months New Zealand has been made to look like it goes out of its way to infringe on civil liberties and stick up for the wrong people. The prime minister bowing down and crying is ridiculous. Same with the airline and their horrible herringbone seats in business where you see people’s feet lining the aisles.

  11. IDK about NZ, but I watch the United safety video every time, and even dance back and forth in my seat a bit.

    Dat dah dah dah Dah dah dah DAH DAH DAH! Rhapsody in blue baby!

    I also make sure to read the safety card, especially in the exit row!

  12. The safety videos are boring after the first hundred or so . However passengers could show a tiny bit of respect by at least pretending to pay some attention . Don’t you think the FAs get tired of making the announcement and feeling that it is futile ? I always look at the card and look around for the exits at least .

  13. Can’t believe how selfish people can be. In this instance, safety of every passenger on board is involved. People at the exit row are supposed to assist crew in times of emergency. Granted you may likely not encounter said emergency, but when you do you’ll also wish you read that card and knew what to do.

    Geez, would it hurt to ask people to do something good?

  14. Can’t believe it’s already been ten years since Air New Zealands unique take on safety videos first took flight!

    Our favourite Air New Zealand safety videos…

    Fantastical Journey and My Little Corner of the World certainly put a smile on our faces. Summer of Safety also did an awesome job of showing off the beauty of New Zealand… sooo want to visit! We also have to the thumbs up to Safety Old School Style starring Betty White!

    Star of the hit series Suits, Rick Hoffman is one of the stars of Air New Zealand’s latest safety video, which has just been released.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *