Air New Zealand's new in-flight safety video is 'arrogant and disrespectful,' says family of crash victim

Air New Zealand’s new in-flight safety video isn’t sitting so well with some New Zealanders.

The video, which was filmed in Antarctica and stars “Entourage” actor Adrian Grenier, is being criticized for bringing up bad memories of a tragic Air New Zealand flight that crashed into Antarctica’s Mount Erebus in 1979, killing all 257 aboard, reports News.com.au.

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Air New Zealand’s video — which the airline debuted on Wednesday as “The World’s Coolest Safety Video” — wasn't filmed at the site of the crash and does not reference it, but instead attempts to highlight the “important climate and environmental science underway" in Antarctica. Nevertheless, it hit too close to home for families of the victims, and has been the subject of backlash since it was announced.

The wreckage of an Air New Zealand DC-10 lies on the side of Mount Erebus in the Antarctic, Nov. 30, 1979. Pieces of the plane covered an area of 600 x 60 yards. On the left are the wheels of the aircraft and two of the search team. On the right is the largest piece of wreckage, the fuselage. (AP Photo)

Air New Zealand Flight 901 was carrying 237 passengers and 20 crew members on a sightseeing expedition from Auckland when it crashed into Mount Erebus on Nov. 28, 1979. Outside of an act of war, it remains as New Zealand's deadliest disaster.  (AP)

“To be on board and confronted by a safety video you’re obliged to watch set in Antarctica is beyond ironic,” said David Ling, the son of a woman who died in the crash, told the New Zealand Herald over a month ago, when plans for the video were announced. “It is the ultimate insensitive insult to the families, both immediate and wider.”

Ling added that the idea was “crass, arrogant and disrespectful.”

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The video, which stars "Entourage" actor Adrian Grenier, was called "crass, arrogant and disrespectful" by the son of a crash victim, even before it debuted.  (Air New Zealand.)

Another woman, who says her grandfather died on the flight, called it “gutting” on Twitter.

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Lewis Pugh, an Antarctic environmental advocate, has added that he has qualms about the video portraying Antarctica as a “recreational playground” rather than a continent that needs protection. He has also called for Air New Zealand to withdraw the “deeply disturbing” video because of its connection to the Mount Erebus disaster.

"There will be sons and daughters and mothers and fathers who now get on an Air New Zealand flight and have to watch this safety video," he said during an interview with Radio New Zealand.

"Everybody in New Zealand knows about this flight. This safety video was filmed just a few kilometers away from Mount Erebus. It's an extraordinary decision" on Air New Zealand’s part, he added.

Several commenters on Twitter appear to agree with Ling and Pugh’s assessments, but not everyone felt as strongly about the video.

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Air New Zealand has since stated that it had reached out to the families of the victims and received “very positive responses” about the video. The airline noted, however, that it was not able to track down every family affected by the 1979 tragedy.

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Air New Zealand claims the video received "very positive responses" upon being screened for family members of the victims.  (Air New Zealand)

“It was important to us that immediate family members of those lost on Mount Erebus were among the first to be told about the filming project in Antarctica and we have reached out to family members registered in our database directly to share details of our upcoming safety video and the rationale behind this,” said a spokesperson for the airline, per News.com.au.

A representative for Air New Zealand was not immediately available for comment.