Emirates Shows Off Its Tremendous Attention to Detail at a Movie Premiere in the Sky


Movie premieres happen all the time in LA. What makes them stand out from the crowd? Not much, except for the stars that show up to support each film. But there’s a new movie out called Living in the Age of Airplanes that went down a different path. The premiere for this movie was in an Emirates A380 flying over the Pacific. Pretty slick? Yes, but what I found most interesting was how Emirates went about putting this together. The attention to detail was remarkable.

[Full disclosure: Emirates offered me to attend the premiere, but I had one of our concierges at Cranky Concierge, Derek Pugh, go on my behalf. Follow him on Twitter @MDerekPugh.]

First, we should talk about this film. Though I wasn’t on the airplane, I actually saw a sneak peek myself way back in October when the movie was still called Aviation: The Invisible Highway. Since then, it was picked up by National Geographic and the name changed, but the visually-awesome content is still there. Here’s the trailer.

This movie was put together by Brian Terwilliger who aviation lovers around the world know as the man behind One Six Right. This 47 minute film follows the progress of human transportation with longtime aviator Harrison Ford narrating. Anyone who loves airplanes will love this movie. The only problem? It’s an IMAX movie and the release is limited, to say the least. There’s only one theater in California, for example. But I had the chance to talk to Brian a lot last October and he explained to me how IMAX movies are funny because they come in and play for long periods of time. So when other movies are done showing, it’s likely we’ll see this movie go into more IMAX theaters at museums or other non-traditional movie venues. If it’s near you now, go see it. The airplane porn alone is well worth it.

But let’s get back to that premiere, because I found it fascinating. Though I wasn’t there, Derek took more than 250 photos and noted the incredible attention to detail. While I have no doubt a silly amount of money was spent here (much of which I can only assume had to come from the deep pockets of Emirates), it’s not every company that can put something together like this. The experience started as early as the entrance to the Bradley Terminal at LAX.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - TBIT Entrance

You can see a custom-designed logo was put in the airline logo directory telling people which aisle to use for check-in.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - FIDS

The flight was on the departure board, though its destination was unknown. (Marietta would be proud.)

Living in the Age of Airplanes - Welcome Champagne

Attendees were taken up to the Emirates lounge where they were greeted with champagne, a hot buffet, and of course some caviar.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - Emirates Lounge

That was followed by a big event where the director spoke about the film… flanked by attractive flight attendants, of course.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - Gate Area

Down at the gate, the movie imagery continued into the boarding process. Emirates decided to delay its flight from LA to Dubai that day by a few hours so that it could use it for this special flight. (Yes, it was delayed in advance, but still, they did fly a whole crew in just to work this flight.)

Living in the Age of Airplanes - IFE

The theme didn’t stop once on the airplane. The inflight entertainment system had been customized to welcome people onboard the premiere flight.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - Popcorn

Everyone was given a box of Emirates-branded popcorn and Voss water to have with the film.

Living in the Age of Airplanes - SFO in Movie

The shades were all drawn as the aircraft did wide circles over the Pacific. Everyone watched the movie at their seats. Afterwards, they let people tour the aircraft. A First Class suite was made up in the bed position so people could get a sense for what the product was like. Another was set up with a full meal service on display. It effectively became a big Emirates commercial.

Kudos to Emirates for putting together a great event for a very worthy film, but really, the airline didn’t go far enough. Maybe next time, Etihad will try to get in the game by chartering an individual aircraft for each attendee….

Get Cranky in Your Inbox!

The airline industry moves fast. Sign up and get every Cranky post in your inbox for free.

20 comments on “Emirates Shows Off Its Tremendous Attention to Detail at a Movie Premiere in the Sky

  1. Thanks for the review Cranky! I’m in CLT so the closest theater for me is one of the two Aerospace Museums in DC. I haven’t seen the movie, but I only wish they’d kept the original title, “The Invisible Highway”. “Living in the Age of Airplanes” just seems too generic, but I know they are trying to reach out to more folks than just us AV Geeks.

  2. Cool! Although, CF, April fools was twenty days ago, Eithad will of course be ordering a fleet of A380s to premier the next aviation themed movie.

    Now I’m curious how a flight like this falls under aviation treaties? I guess Emirates would’ve had to do this for free?

    1. No applicable Aviation Treaty issue. The flight departed and returned to the same airport. The issues come up if you actually transport passenger between two points. As long as it a flight to nowhere it is a non-issue.

  3. While I’d like to see the film, the premier on an A380 sounds hugely wasteful. How many thousands of pounds of jet fuel were burned for this stunt? Clearly Emirates doesn’t care about being “green.” On my travels everywhere I turn there is something about the environment, be it an in-flight magazine talking about a fuel efficient fleet or a hotel room asking to hang up towels for re-use. This “premier” seems like a relic from the past that shouldn’t have been resurrected.

  4. an airline from a third world country as far as LGBT AND WOMAN’S RIGHTS.



    1. It would be hard to tell, but the movie was filmed over the course of 6 years, starting I believe circa 2008. So it was somewhere between 2008 and 2014. Some of the more astute historians here might be able to give a more exact timeframe.

    1. The system is pretty good at weeding out out-of-office replies, but I guess this one fell through the cracks. It’s gone now.

  5. I am astonished at the comments—is there such a jealously towards Emirates and other carriers that indulge in celebrating events and that have a culture of offering plenty to their guests? Next is what?—that the menu card, great food, and 2000 channels on ICE are all a waste and show how deep pocketed Emirates is? Compare this to the culture of American or European carriers—-only caring for the bottom-line and profits to shareholders. What do you get?—I would say crappy service, but looking at these commentators it would be efficient services!

    Such barebone services might be fine for flying within the US where flights are basically like the equivalent of bus transportation in emerging countries [in terms of frequency, connectivity and service quality], but when your journey is more than 12 hours….Thank God for Singapore, Cathay, Emirates and the like for bringing in a culture of plenty and celebration to long haul travel.

    I am not even going into the discussion about subsides here because of the hypocrisy prevalent here in the US regarding this issue. Anybody care to discuss US subsidies to its agriculture sector and how other developing countries respond?—then we can discuss the Aviation sector

    1. I agree. When traveling longhaul, it’s refreshing to have the option of a carrier with smiling, attentive crew, new airplanes, top-of-the-line IFE, and food that cost more than $4 to prepare.

      The rest of you are welcome to continue riding in the back of United and American’s depressing sky prisons, choking down three-bite TV dinners (I know, I know, United is generously giving us a cheese-and-cracker appetizer now! the luxury!), and being snarled at or ignored by the septuagenarian cabin crew.

  6. You never hear much about the barbaric ritually slaughtered (In the name of alah) “halal” meals on Emirates, no mention of the animals having their throats cut without being stunned first and left to bleed to death.

  7. I know the A380 is big, but how did they get an IMAX screen in there?

    Or in other words: if it can be “reformatted to fit your screen” on IFE systems, surely it could play in regular movie theaters?

    And yes, I think it’s unnecessarily wasteful. Why didn’t they premier it on a regularly scheduled flight with regularly scheduled passengers? Don’t those “flights to the north pole” that United and perhaps other airlines organize around Xmas just tool around the airport (instead of actually taking off)? http://unitedfantasyflight.com Now get off my lawn! :)

    1. IMAX movies of the science variety are usually exclusive to IMAX theatres for quite a while. Its just how they do things.

  8. That is so crazy! I was wondering how they got that big ol tv screen in there too! They definitely went above and beyond for that movie premiere! Looks so exciting and a great way to get people into the movie.

  9. Surely this is one of best aviation film trailers out there. Yes I agree that anyone who loves airplanes will love this movie.

    When planes were invented their purpose was simple. To take us faster and farther. But they accomplished more
    than we ever imagined.

    Thank you.

  10. Here is an airline which is genuinely promoting such a good movie which removes misconceptions and makes people respect airlines a bit. We should be thankful for their efforts, Unlike some nasty comments here!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Cranky Flier