Virgin America releases creative new in-flight safety video ... but new FAA cellphone ruling will send it back to the shop

BY CAROL KURUVILLA | OCT. 31, 2013

There’s a new kind of safety dance making rounds on the Web.

Virgin America capitalized on the popularity of its older hand-drawn flight safety video by bringing in the big guns—a top Hollywood director, famous choreographers, former Olympians and a dancing nun.

The pricey high-end production, created by Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Produced entertainment company, made a big debut on a Times Square billboard and at the Ellen DeGeneres show this week.

But just two days after the video was released, the Federal Aviation Administration started singing a new tune. The organization announced that passengers will now be able to use cellphones from gate-to-gate. While passengers can't make cell phone calls, they will soon be allowed to play games and watch movies on their cellphones.

Which means that one line in the video--which asks passengers to shut off their electornic devices--is already outdated.

A spokesperson from Virgin America said that the company was aware of the FAA's revisions and hoped to implement the new cellphone rule in November. 

null

The previous animated safety video was apparentely edited several times since its release in 2007. Virgin said it was planning to update the latest video early next year.

The previous animated safety video was apparentely edited several times since its release in 2007. Virgin said it was planning to update the latest video early next year.

"Aside from the current ruling which we knew was pending, there are frequently safety video updates required per different regulatory requirements," spokesperson Abby Lundardini told The News.

The airline is spurring on the edits by holding a talent audition via Instagram. The winner will appear in a future version of the in-flight safety video.

But the new video was scheduled to start airing on nationwide Virgin America flights in November. The contest will be accepting entries until Nov. 22, which gives the airline a tight time frame to select the winner and release a new version.

Virgin has hired director Jon M. Chu, who already graced the world with classics like “Step Up 2: The Streets” and “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.” Choreography was done by Jamal Sims, of “Dancing with the Stars.”

null

Thirty-six dancers, including “American Idol” star Todrick Hall and 10 “So You Think You Can Dance” alumni, teamed up to deliver in-flight safety guidelines through both song and dance.

The video features 14 different dance styles, including b-boy, break dancing, finger-tutting, tango and waving-just.

“I think we've successfully taken Virgin America into new, uncharted territory with this safety video, and I really hope to see people doing their own versions of the safety dance soon,” Chu said in a press release.

The over-the-top production was praised by a number of Virgin fans and media outlets.

“Definitely less annoying than the dull safety videos that most airlines have,” Girish Nanda wrote on Facebook.

null

But it also drew a number of reactionaries out of the woodwork.

“The original animated flight safety video was well done and understated,” Stephan Winokur lamented on Facebook.

“Keep the cartoon demo,” Jay Thetrader said.

They’ll be happy to know that the airline preserved one link to the past. The nun character from the older video was shuttled into the new one — except she’s now a good deal sassier and played by former Olympian Tamara Campos.

ORIGINAL LINK TO ARTICLE HERE.

ckuruvilla@nydailynews.com