Have you seen the new Christmas "movie" that United Airlines recently released? It's called "Love in Plane Sight" and on the United YouTube channel, you can watch what they call the "Full Film," which makes it sound like you're actually about to dive into a movie, but in fact, it's a not-quite-six-minute "rom-com short," featuring everything you love to hate (or just hate) about every cheesy Hallmark Christmas movie. Here's the plot of the movie, which features three appearances from Santa Claus and four employees who are actually elves in disguise: An astronomer flying home for Christmas on United Airlines literally runs into a stranger in the terminal, who spills coffee all over her sweater and then rushes off to his flight. They end up sitting next to each other on their flight. They fall in love, and a year later jet off to Hawaii (on United, of course) for their honeymoon.
United describes the film:
Do you believe in love at first flight? When astronomer Elle Towe heads home for the holidays, her journey crosses paths with a stranger who just might shake up her entire perception of the sky… and of love. Watch United's own holiday rom-com short, Love in Plane Sight.
While the short film itself is perfect for hate-watching hilarity, I found Natalie Compton's review in the Washington Post much more entertaining. Here are some excerpts:
As soon as we learned about the film, our Hallmark-loving-slash-loathing team had to stop what we were doing and watch all 345 seconds immediately. The group chat (all right, it's Slack) lit up like the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. Let's just say we had thoughts.
"Love in Plane Sight" opens with a monologue from a woman anxious about traveling home to see her family, sans romantic partner. "I can't wait for my parents to ask me why I'm still single," laments our fair heroine to a check-in agent with secret magical elf ears she doesn't seem to notice. "I don't know, maybe because I'm an astronomer? … Maybe I just need to say, 'Mom, Dad, my life partner is the sky!'"
"It's a classic rom-com setup: big-city astronomer heads to the airport not exactly looking for love," our deputy editor Gabe Hiatt said . . . the exact kind of cheesiness we expect from such a movie, and as hard as it is to stomach, we are here for it . . .
After a tumultuous unknown number of hours on board, a baby starts crying as the seat mates read their tablets. Instead of yelling at the infant or demanding new seats, the travelers launch into Operation Happy Baby, making faces and waving. The shred of human decency endears Towe to her kooky companion, and over United's signature sundaes, sparks start to fly. . .
To half the staff, the movie was a horror story. "An overly chatty neighbor is a flight nightmare. I don't know why she didn't put her divider up right away," Finnegan said.
Bulbin agreed. "If someone did SIT UPS next to me on a plane and acted obnoxiously, I would not then marry that person. I might ask the flight attendant if another seat was available though."
I beg to differ. It doesn't matter how you find your picks-you-up-from-the-airport suitor, you lock that down.
In this review for Business Insider by Alexandra Karplus, she explains that after the airline announced the film, viewers used the opportunity to critique United's labor policies:
United posted a teaser for the movie on Instagram on November 6, including the movie tagline, "Do you believe in love at first flight?" The post got 6,882 likes and 261 comments.
A few people took this as an opportunity to question the airline's treatment of staff.
"Instead of being an overworked astronomer they should have changed the storyline to a broke and overworked flight attendant," one person wrote.
"Hmmmm money for a Hallmark movie but no money for a flight attendant contract? Priorities I see," another person wrote.
Karplus also reports that other viewers were inspired to share their own stories of finding love on United flights. Regarding the actual movie, Karplus provides this pithy review:
Well, keeping the run time at under six minutes was probably the smartest decision United made here. The only scenario in which I could see myself devoting another six minutes of my life to this movie is if I happened to be on a United flight over the holidays, had a screaming baby next to me, and forgot to pack literally any other form of entertainment.
If you want to see judge the long-form advertisement–I mean, "film"–for yourself, here you go.