British Airways is set to start the trial of VR entertainment on select first-class flights from London Heathrow to New York JFK. From this time until the end of the year, travelers on these flights will have their own 3D cinema entertainment in the sky and will be able to watch a variety of films, documentaries and travel shows in 2D, 3D or 360° formats.
British Airways is hoping that VR entertainment might help some of its passengers distract themselves long enough on a flight to forget they’re zooming several hundred miles per hour at tens of thousands of feet above the ground. To do this, British Airways is using SkyLights’ specialist VR viewer, AlloSky.
The airline is tapping SkyLights for the VR eyewear headsets that will be available for its first-class passengers. The AlloSky hardware can present 3D views even when the viewer is lying flat.
Customers who opt to lie fully flat won’t miss out on the experience as the Allosky headsets from SkyLights will allow full 3D immersion regardless of their position. Earlier this year, the airline also used similar hardware at its Heathrow Terminal 5 to give customers a trail of its business class Club World Suites.
“Virtual reality has the power to revolutionise in-flight entertainment and we’re really excited to trial these new glasses as they should create a unique and memorable journey for our First customers,” said Sajida Ismail, BA’s Head of Inflight Product.
The headset will be available to First Class customers on certain flights. The news comes as competitor Inflight VR announces a €4 million round in funding to expand its operations. VR flying certainly seems to be becoming big business, though we’ll be interested to see when and how technology allows it to go beyond simple video viewing. We’re probably a ways off from that.
British Airways is absolutely not the first airline to adopt VR entertainment — Quantas trialed it back in 2015 and Alaska Airlines did the same last year — but it is the first time that UK airline to do so, and it’s a big name in the air travel biz, suggesting that in-flight VR could soon become an on-board norm.
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