Air NZ threatens return of ridiculed rap safety video if passengers don't social distance

Air New Zealand goes back to the '80s with new safety video

Air New Zealand reworks Run DMC's hit 'It's Tricky' for its latest safety video, with a hip-hop dance spectacular featuring a cast of hundreds.

Air New Zealand has come up with a novel, if harsh, punishment for passengers if they don't stick to physical distancing rules on board – bringing back its much-derided rap safety video.

The airline shared a memo from "Tod Michaels, Head of Safety" to the marketing team, suggesting "a new way of encouraging people to follow our physical distancing measures on board."

"If people adhere to the new standard, we'll promise not to bring back our rap safety video this month," the memo says. "Tod Michaels" appears to be a corruption of the name of outgoing chief marketing officer Mike Tod.

Air New Zealand pulled the $2.5 million It's Kiwi Safety music/safety video in January 2019, just three months after it released the video, which featured an all-Kiwi cast, including actor Julian Dennison of Hunt for the Wilderpeople fame, getting down to a Kiwified version of Run DMC's 1986 hip hop hit It's Tricky.

The video received a barrage of criticism after its November 2018 launch, with Breakfast presenter Hayley Holt branding it "embarrassing", while NZ First MP Shane Jones called it "confusing" and "tone deaf" and said it "trivialised safety".

Going by the comments Air New Zealand's threat to bring back the rap video received on social media, it could prove pretty effective.

"Air New Zealand I love you a lot but if you bring back that rapper safety video..." one person wrote.

"This should be more effective at ensuring social distancing measures are followed than two tins of baked beans, a good helping of onions and two week old unwashed socks," another said.


"I think a better idea would be to pretend the rap safety video never existed, personally," another said.

The marketing team appealed to passengers to stick to physical distancing rules on board, saying "Don't make us do it. Please."

The airline has copped criticism for the lack of physical distancing on some flights.

In early April, an Auckland women said she had been "shocked" to find passengers seated closer than two metres together on an April 28 Air New Zealand flight from Auckland to Wellington.

Tim Lonergan, a Kiwi living in Houston, Texas, said he was surprised to discover his flight from Auckland to Los Angeles on May 2 was so busy passengers could not be seated at least two metres apart.

"Several travellers were upset and scared upon boarding when they saw how full the flight was," he said.

An Air New Zealand spokesperson said at the time that the airline "strictly follows Ministry of Health and WHO (World Health Organisation) guidance" to ensure flights are safe for crew and customers.

"This includes supporting physical distancing onboard by allocating seating where we can to allow for extra space between passengers."

The airline says on its website that it is "working to support government guidance around social distancing" on domestic flights by leaving an empty seat between passengers travelling alone.

On international flights, the carrier said it will try "to provide additional space for customers throughout the aircraft where possible".

The airline has introduced new measures to support social distancing at airports, including blocking of some check-in kiosks to prevent crowding and placing floor markers in areas where queues normally form, such as at the gates.

See also: 'So terrible': Poor reception to latest Air NZ comedy safety video

See also: Do those funny airline safety videos actually work?