"The moment [laughter] arises, all our hardnesses yield, all our irritations and resentments slip away and a sunny spirit takes their place." -Mark Twain
A couple weeks ago a few of us were discussing the somewhat unfortunate relationship between airlines and social media. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go ahead and do a quick Twitter search for “airline” and you’re guaranteed to find a plethora of complaints.
“They lost my bag” complaint. “We’re still sitting on the runway” complaint. “Why can’t the plane take off with a crack in the windshield?" complaint. “How can adult humans take so long deboarding an airplane” complaint. “I don’t like peanut smell” complaint. “How dare you bring a baby on an airplane!” complaint.
The list goes on and on.
I admit it. In a moment (possibly multiple moments) of frustration, I too have turned to tweeting. And while I feel justified in doing so, (we were told our plane was held for over an hour “waiting on bags from a previous flight” as we peeked out the window to discover the baggage handler taking a nap on the bag trolley...) the airlines seem to take a particularly harsh 140-character flogging on a regular basis.
Perhaps it’s just the nature of a high-stress experience (travel) combined with the instantaneous gratification that comes along with unloading that stress on the world with the push of the button. Who can say?
But one thing is certain: travel brings out a side of many people you (thankfully) don’t see in everyday life.
Precisely why I was extra delighted to stumble across the new preflight video for Virgin America (in partnership with Method Products whose hand wash takes up residence in Virgin America restrooms).
This video does everything right.
It appeals to travelers of (all types) by embracing reality (of all types). It uses humor to boost customer morale. It creates a sense of oneness amongst strangers, if only from wheels-up to wheels-down.
"Everyone knows you’re not supposed to stand up when the seat belt sign is on, get blotto on board or hog the armrest, but when a flight attendant snaps “Sir/ma’am, you need to [fill in the blank],” sometimes you want to doÂ the oppositeÂ just to show who’s boss. The video uses the world’s best teaching tool, humor,Â as a reminderÂ thatÂ behaviorsÂ likeÂ loud conversation,Â kicking the seat in front of you and dawdlingÂ in theÂ restroomÂ are, in fact,Â disturbing to fellow passengers.”
“There’s nothing in the video that says to our guests ‘you’re bad’,” says Porter Gale, Virgin America’s Vice President of Marketing. “We wanted it to be light and fun in a way that respects our guests.” [read full article here ]
Research has shown that laughter, among other things, lowers blood pressure, increases teamwork and helps people feel more in control of their situations, even if those situations seem out of control. In fact, even if you don’t get a giggle out of someone, the simple anticipation of a positive, humorous laughter experience has been shown to reduce stress hormones.
Virgin Airlines (and Method, too) deserves a pat on the back (and perhaps some love tweets) for displaying such an evolved sense of self awareness. There are always going to be flight delays. Luggage will get lost. People are going to be annoying. They might even kick the back of your seat.
But we’re all in this together. And with a dash of good-natured humor, one simple, powerful message (and a catchy tune that doesn't hurt, either) they create an insta-community at 20,000 feet - from New York to Los Angeles, Houston to St. Paul.