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Alright, time to be honest: how many of you give the pre-flight safety video your full attention? I certainly don’t every single time I fly, although I like to think that I do more than most.

But apparently that can mean the difference between getting to fly and being left at the airport, at least with Air New Zealand.

Be safe…or get off my plane!

A few years ago, a man and a woman were traveling on Air New Zealand from Wellington to Auckland when the plane returned to the gate to deposit them both once again in New Zealand’s second-largest city. Their offense was refusing to watch the safety video and view the safety card. The crew instructed them to do so multiple times, but the pair made it clear they weren’t interested.

The two were seated in an exit row, which does give you a bit more responsibility than the average passenger, so I can understand why the crew would take this far more seriously. In my experience sitting in an exit row, at least on U.S. carriers, you must provide a verbal “yes” that you are willing and able to help in an emergency, and you are always referred to the safety card to review the procedures. My son never fails to look it over thoroughly (except he can’t sit in the exit row at 8 years old).

a boy and girl reading a book on an airplane

In this case, the two passengers made it clear they were not interested in viewing the video, occupying themselves instead with their cell phones. The woman went as far as to put her fingers in her ears to make it crystal clear she wasn’t listening to the crew. The plane eventually returned to the gate to deposit the pair.

Receiving an infringement notice from the Civil Aviation Authority, the woman stood her ground, asserting that maybe Air New Zealand should stop making “Rachel Hunter ice cream ad” safety videos.

Even if Air New Zealand has a history of making awful safety videos, you still need to listen to them and to the crew. I’m not sure if the airline’s reaction would have been justified had the pair been seated in non-exit row seats. But given the responsibility the two had taken on for a few extra inches of legroom, I understand why the airline reacted the way it did.

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