If My Plane Crashes... (pt. 2)


It's been a while since I updated my collection of amazing pictures from airline safety cards (the original post is here), but this past weekend I flew American Airlines for the first time, and wow, American Air. Just...wow. You win. This whole post is all yours.

Let's start with the "Lap Child Flotation" panel.

first photo

Question: I've looked at your safety instruction card, and I'm still a bit confused. Do I tighten the shoe strap before or after the child is tethered to my lap? And is it really a good idea to make the child disappear into the flotation device at the end?

Answer: Ok, fine. One more time. As the card clearly illustrates, after wrapping the binary cord lengthwise around the red lateral oxygen mask tube, you attach their shoe into the secondary buckle before reconciling the yellow trapezoid with the primary pouch, but only if your child is able to stand unassisted. It's just not that hard. And studies have shown that your child is up to 48% more buoyant if their shoes are the only part of them that remains outside the flotation device.

Amazingly, the child flotation panel is by no means the most remarkable part of this particular safety card.

Let's move on to the general flotation panel.

next photo

Question: I've been told I have a lovely face and that I'm easy to draw because I'm all one color. Do you think I could be your airline's flotation model?

Answer: Well, let's see. You are quite monochromatic, and you do look very serene clutching those straps. Let's see what this looks like from the other side...HOLY SMOKES! Um, tell you what. We're just going to add some water effects to that front shot and call it a day. Proportions aren't everything, and your lips are impressively detailed for someone whose head is bigger than her hips.

But that's not all. American Airlines also has an inspiring tale embedded in its general evacuation panels.

The story so good they tell it twice:

third photo

Question: All these years, I've felt so constrained. But sitting at the edge of this emergency exit, I feel...free. Is the life I desire really possible?!

Answer: We at American Airlines affirm all our customers' life choices, without regard for hair-style, wardrobe, or chromaticity. Keep running right towards the life you want with the world's tiniest steps, you, and let your beige freak-flag fly!

(It's worth noting here that--as the black man denied an exit, gazing sadly at the fire, smoke, and debris at the top of the photo proves--full color illustrations were an option here. Making the people in the main panels totally monochromatic was a deliberate decision. A decision made by someone who then carefully added tiny yellow stripes to the flight attendant's sleeves.)

final photo

Question: As I sit here again at the edge of the emergency exit, I worry that my freedom is illusory.

Answer: American Airlines has no official stance on whether your character is determined by your situation or whether your possibilities are limitless. You seem determined to rock that hairstyle and outfit, though, and we applaud your monochromatic efforts as we remind you to keep moving forward so that the person behind you can exit the aircraft.

(I also love that this looks like an homage to Alison Bechdel's early work.)

Are there more airline safety cards with stories to tell? Of course! But those are tales I'll save for another day. Speed-walk to freedom, beige person! Speed-walk to freedom.


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Written by Christina Van Dyke
the academic world
philosophy professor at a liberal arts college, writing about medieval views on the afterlife, gendered eating, and the perils of on-line dating.

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