These days, airplane safety videos are filled with jokes, hidden cameos, and similar techniques to encourage passengers to pay attention. A few decades ago? Not so much. In the good old days, airplane safety videos were so quiet and soothing that they could put a typical passenger to sleep...and that was okay, provided he or she wasn't currently smoking.
Here are some of the best retro airplane safety videos around. Please secure your own oxygen mask before assisting others; you may need supplemental oxygen to get through all of these.
1. Pan Am Airbus A300, 1998
Here's a video from a defunct airline, for a plane that is no longer produced, though many are still in service. Things to watch for: smooth soundtrack; smoking on the flight (including when the oxygen masks deploy!); and mustaches galore.
2. TWA Lockheed L-1011 TriStar, Circa 1980
Watch for: The smoking section, jumping out onto the inflatable slide rafts, and "A slight burning odor may be detected while oxygen is in use. This is normal." Good to know. Note: This video doesn't come with a date; it's possible that it was recorded as early as the 1970s (the L-1011 dates from 1972), but my best guess puts it somewhere around 1980.
3. Hawaiian Airlines DC-10, Circa 1998
Another undated video, but I'm guessing late 1990s based on the portable CD player, laptop, and Motorola cell phone. Another telltale sign: bad 3D animation.
4. Finnair MD-11, Circa 2000
This is what it would look like if David Lynch directed an airplane safety video.
5. Lufthansa Airbus A300, Circa Mid 1980s
The German/English presentation and soundtrack are excellent; the smoking, fashion, and robotic flight attendants? Not so much.
6. Tower Air Boeing 747, Circa Late 1980s
Tower Air went out of business in 2000. But the flight attendant giving us his best "Blue Steel" at 0:57 will always be with us.
7. Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400, 1994
"This is a smoking flight!" Shoulder pads! Giant cell phones! Slow-motion oxygen mask drop! Welcome back to 1994, people!
Endless Airplane Safety Videos
If this is your jam, behold The Ultimate In-Flight Safety Video Collection, which is just what it claims to be.