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“Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson, exercise guru Richard Simmons and Bear Grylls of “Man vs. Wild” are just a few of the celebs who’ve made appearances in Air New Zealand’s always entertaining in-flight safety videos — and now it’s Betty White’s turn. Along with Gavin MacLeod of “Love Boat” fame, the nonagenarian actress has taken to the seatback screen with a humorous take on “Safety Old School Style.”

Set in a retirement community, the video plays up the senior citizen jokes — so if you’re sensitive to cracks about hearing aids and oxygen tanks, you might want to give it a miss. But the mostly elderly cast is clearly having such fun that it’s hard to take offense. Give it a watch:



Note: The part about turning off electronic devices for take-off and landing may soon be outdated, following the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent announcement permitting the use of such devices at altitudes under 10,000 feet for all approved aircraft.

For more laughs, check out Air New Zealand’s past safety videos below.

Bear “Man vs. Wild” Grylls Takes On In-Flight Safety
Airline Safety Briefing: Middle Earth-Style
President Obama Makes Cameo in Air New Zealand Safety Video
Richard Simmons Sweats to a New Flight Safety Video

– written by Sarah Schlichter

airlines behaving badlyThis post is part of our “Airlines Behaving Badly” series, which chronicles the oft-wicked ways of the air travel industry.

Next time you’re in Beijing, don’t ask anyone behind the China Eastern Airlines desk which gate your flight is leaving from. They might just strike out at you for being so impertinent!

At least that’s what happened back in March when freelance journalist Matt Sheehan filmed an angry airline worker trying to hit several customers with a steel chair.

Now, I’ve heard of angry airline employees yelling at passengers and, of course, there’s the infamous case of Steven Slater, the JetBlue flight attendant who deployed the emergency slide after claiming he was verbally abused by passengers. And I fully appreciate how difficult it must be for airline workers to rein in their anger when passengers are yelling at them — but this story takes the cake.

According to Sheehan, passengers waiting for a flight were ping-ponged back and forth between several departure gates as their flight was delayed later and later. After the departure gate was changed yet again, he and several other passengers went to the counter for information. Sheehan admits many of the passengers were angry.

Airport Delays: Six Ways to Cope

Enter the manager who tried to calm the crowd down, but also refused to acknowledge that the departure gate had been changed numerous times. And that’s when things got ugly. Two of the angry passengers lashed out; one threw a wadded newspaper at the manager, while another threw a plastic water bottle.

Take a look at how the manager reacted:



Okay, yes, the passengers shouldn’t have thrown anything. But the manager’s reaction was way out of proportion. Maybe if the passenger had thrown a knife, it would have been appropriate. But wadded newspapers and plastic bottles do not rate a steel chair response.

– written by Dori Saltzman

My husband and I took a two-week cruise for our honeymoon, paid for primarily by guests at our reception who kindly used our honeymoon registry. For each person who “donated” money, either to the overall experience or a specific onboard or shore adventure, we took a Polaroid photo of ourselves doing that activity and then mailed it off. It was our version of a honeymoon postcard. Recipients loved it — but how much cooler would it have been if we’d been able to easily send people a short video of ourselves hiking on a glacier or kissing the Blarney Stone?

Sadly, such a tool did not exist six years ago. It does now.

Vine is a new social media platform that lets you take a six-second video with your smartphone and then post it online. It’s perfect for travel, allowing you to capture more of your experience than you could with a still snapshot.

For instance, what photograph can truly capture the grace of these dancing fountains at Bellagio (care of Twitter user @StyleCounselor), the way this video does?



The way Vine works is this: You download the app on your iPhone (unfortunately no Android version is yet available). Then when you’re ready to make a video, you pull up the app and touch the screen to start the camera rolling. Lifting your finger will pause the camera. Do this until you’ve captured six seconds of footage (it stops automatically).

Because there’s currently no way to edit your footage, some Vine videos look a little choppy, like this 360-degree video of Union Square in San Francisco (care of Twitter user @origiful)…



…or this video of the Montmartre funicular in Paris (care of Twitter user @sourenian).



But a well-thought-out idea and a sense of humor can produce six seconds of fun (care of Twitter user @clove).



7 Amazing Photography Apps for Your Phone


– written by Dori Saltzman

It’s the YouTube craze that’s swept the globe — and now it’s hit the skies. On a recent Frontier Airlines flight, an ultimate Frisbee team from Colorado College launched its own version of the Harlem Shake in the aisle of the plane, complete with someone rocking out in a banana costume. (Now how do you fit that into a carry-on?)

Though it seemed like it was all in good fun, the Federal Aviation Administration isn’t convinced. According to ABC’s “Good Morning America,” the agency is looking into the incident to make sure the students weren’t in violation of any safety regulations (such as interfering with flight attendants or standing during take-off/landing). The students claim they cleared their dance with the flight attendants first and waited until the seatbelt sign was off. A Frontier spokesperson says the plane’s safety was never in jeopardy.

Check out the video below for the full story:


Would you feel nervous if the Harlem Shake hit your next flight — or be grateful for a little in-air entertainment?

Finnair Flight Attendants Go Bollywood

Dancing Flight Attendants Kick Up Controversy

– written by Sarah Schlichter

When you fly as often as we do here at IndependentTraveler.com, those in-flight safety demonstrations can get a little boring — so we always perk up when an airline decides to have fun with them. And nobody does that as well as Air New Zealand. Richard Simmons had us wishing we were in pink spandex, while a planeful of elves, wizards and hobbits had us longing for a Middle Earth getaway.

Now Bear Grylls, lately of “Man vs. Wild,” has us readying our fire starter kits and emergency rations. In the latest iteration of the “celebrity” safety briefings, Bear takes viewers on an adrenaline-filled romp through the New Zealand mountains while still buckling up for safety and heeding the flight attendants’ instructions. Take a look:



Do new twists on standard briefings make you any more likely to pay attention? Sound off in the comments below.

Watch more fun airline videos:
President Obama Appears in Air New Zealand Video
Delta Flash Mob
Finnair Goes Bollywood: Jai Ho!

– written by Dori Saltzman

… check your pulse. VisitScotland has just released a new video featuring two adorable Shetland ponies named Fivla and Vitamin, standing on a barren winter hillside in cozy-looking wool cardigans. The video was shot to promote the Year of Natural Scotland, a celebration of the region’s glens, lochs, mountains, wildlife and other natural attractions. Check it out:


After watching this, the first thing I wondered was just how they got the ponies into those stylish sweaters! Luckily, VisitScotland has provided a video of that too.


Now I want to do two things: Book a trip to Scotland — and figure out how to get a Shetland pony as a pet.

In Your Face: 9 Up-Close Animal Encounters

– written by Sarah Schlichter

We here at IndependentTraveler.com have seen some crazy airline safety briefings in our time (Richard Simmons, anyone?), but this one definitely caught our attention. Featuring 11 Air New Zealand crewmembers and surprise appearances by “Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring” producer and “The Hobbit” director Peter Jackson, plus J.R.R. Tolkien’s grandsons Mike and Royd, this Middle-earth-inspired video tells passengers the standard need-to-know information from seatbelt-fastening to oxygen mask application. Take a look:


Air New Zealand has partnered with Jackson to promote the new “Hobbit” trilogy; the first movie in the series, shot in New Zealand, is due in American theaters in December.

Do new twists on standard briefings make you any more likely to pay attention? Sound off in the comments below.

Watch more fun airline videos:
President Obama Appears in Air New Zealand Video
Delta Flash Mob
Finnair Goes Bollywood: Jai Ho!

– written by Ashley Kosciolek

I still remember the first time I saw the movie “Koyaanisqatsi” back in the 80’s. It was my first introduction to time-lapse film, and I found the combination of sped-up images and music to be moving in a way few things are.

Today time-lapse video is more common, and a quick search through YouTube turns up videos of flowers growing, children aging and buildings developing. But my favorite videos are those that show mountains, lakes, monuments or cities over the course of a day or week in just a minute’s worth of time.

Forget flipping through a picture book — I never want more to travel than after watching a day unfold somewhere in the world I haven’t yet been.

Here are a few time-lapse travel videos that will inspire you to travel.

Speeding Around The World in Under 5 Minutes

This time-lapse video spans 17 countries visited over the course of 343 days. Among the countries highlighted are England, France, Morocco, Egypt, Jordan, Thailand and Uruguay.



New York City
A great time-lapse glimpse at the city that never sleeps.



Around Paris
Some of Paris’ most iconic sights zip through time in this video.



Enjoyed these? Check out Get Inspired: Around the World in Eight Amazing Videos.

– written by Dori Saltzman

Today, Air New Zealand released another of its cheeky, star-studded in-flight safety videos — and this time U.S. President Barack Obama makes an appearance, along with Snoop Dogg and members of New Zealand’s rugby team, the All Blacks. (Previous videos have included cameos from Lindsay Lohan, David Hasselhoff and our personal favorite, Richard Simmons.)

The hand-drawn video is a departure from previous live-action efforts, and it’s filled with wry little details. As you watch below, keep your eye out for Queen Elizabeth and her corgis — and check out President Obama’s cocktail.



How many celebs did you spot? If you can name at least five, you can enter to win an around-the-world trip for two from Air New Zealand on its social media site, TheFlyingSocialNetwork.com.

Watch more fun airline videos:
Delta Flash Mob
Finnair Goes Bollywood: Jai Ho!

– written by Sarah Schlichter

spirit galacticHere at IndependentTraveler.com, we got through yesterday without slipping on any well-placed banana peels. (Whew.) But we did get a chuckle at some of the April Fool’s Day gags offered up by the airline industry this year.

Ultra-discounter Spirit Airlines extended its famous $9 fares to space travel with Spirit Galactic. Members of the carrier’s $9 Fare Club can enjoy ultra-cheap prices to the moon, but as always with Spirit, the devil’s in the details; additional “optional” fees include a million-dollar space suit and $1,200,000,000.99 for rocket fuel (“Hey, this stuff ain’t cheap”).

Spirit vs. Ryanair: Who’s the Ugliest Airline of Them All?

Skyscanner.net, an airfare search site, announced the launch of AirFair, a fare-free, “pay what you wish” airline that would allow passengers to give a donation based on what they think their flight was worth. “In order to ensure donations are sufficient to keep the airline profitable, AirFair has carried out extensive studies and plan[s] to offer flights only on routes most likely to generate high revenues,” reads the press release. “London City to St. Tropez, Monaco and Zurich are the first to be launched, whereas no flights to or from Scotland have been announced.” Zing!

Air New Zealand’s grabaseat.co.nz also trumpeted a splashy new product: Straight Up Fares, or standing-room-only tickets for full flights. Standing passengers, who can cling to hand straps dangling from the ceiling, will enjoy deep discounts “as consideration for the reduced inflight comfort, and the involuntary stranger-touching during turbulence,” according to the press release. For seniors who can’t easily reach the hand straps, says grabaseat manager Duane Perott, “We’ve modified a couple of Jolly Jumpers and hung them in the gap between the aft toilets. … We wanted to offer our elderly customers a solution with dignity, and I’m proud to say we’ve achieved that.”

The Most Awkward Moments in Travel

Finally, Canadian airline WestJet offers an innovative option for parents who don’t want to fly with their children any more than the rest of us do:



Did WestJet top last year’s effort, which called for airplanes filled with helium? Take a look:



– written by Sarah Schlichter