Airlines have actually already dabbled into the world of virtual reality. In 2018, Seattle-based Alaska Airlines partnered with Skylights—a French-based company specializing in VR entertainment systems—to introduce virtual headsets as part of their first-class experience. This meant only passengers flying in first class could experience VR during their flight.
The headsets provided a selection of 2D and 3D movies, short films and immersive VR content. Although the airline has since discontinued the offering as part of their in-flight entertainment, launching the product shows just how far commercial airlines have come in terms of enhancing the in-flight experience for passengers.
Virtual reality technology has the potential to create a truly immersive and personalized entertainment experience onboard.
VR Headset Trials with Other Commercial Airlines
In 2020, Qatar Airways—one of the world’s leading airlines in terms of in-flight service and luxury offerings—conducted a trial of virtual reality (VR) headsets as part of its in-flight entertainment experience. The airline partnered with the South Korean company, VDroom, to introduce the VR headsets on a select number of its flights.
During the trial, first and business class passengers on long-haul routes to London and Singapore had the opportunity to experience VR entertainment using the headsets. The VR content included a variety of 3D movies, documentaries and virtual tours, offering an immersive and interactive in-flight experience.
In the second part of 2019 and the airline’s 100th year of operation, U.K.’s flag carrier airline British Airways conducted a trial of virtual reality (VR) headsets as part of its in-flight entertainment experience. The airline introduced the VR headsets on select flights in First Class and Club World (business class) cabin.
The 3D content included two five-minute episodes for children, three stories for adults ranging from 11 to 37 minutes in length and two mindfulness exercises, each lasting approximately five minutes.
The introduction of VR headsets was aimed at enhancing the premium travel experience and offering an innovative way for passengers to enjoy entertainment during their flights. Passengers could escape into virtual worlds, explore new destinations and enjoy a more personalized entertainment experience.
Will VR Headsets Become an Integral Part of In-Flight Entertainment?
The constant innovations in technology force airlines to explore new ways to not only entertain but retain loyal customers.
Similar to other cabin innovations like virtual windows, Wi-Fi connectivity and checked luggage tracking apps, the possibility of VR headsets becoming an integral part of in-flight entertainment is certainly feasible. As airlines continue to seek ways to enhance the passenger experience and differentiate themselves from competitors, VR headsets present a unique opportunity to offer a more immersive and personalized entertainment option during flights.
Some potential issues airlines will have to overcome before making virtual reality headsets an integral feature of flying include addressing concerns related to motion sickness and discomfort during extended use, ensuring proper hygiene and sanitation protocols for shared VR headsets and managing potential technical challenges and hardware maintenance.
Despite these challenges, the potential benefits of VR headsets in in-flight entertainment are compelling. They could provide passengers with a unique and memorable travel experience, making long-haul flights more enjoyable and helping airlines build brand loyalty.
Other Ways in Which Airlines Can Benefit from Using Virtual Reality
Training Flight Attendants
VR training can revolutionize the way flight attendants are prepared for their duties. With VR simulations, trainees can immerse themselves in lifelike scenarios, such as handling emergency situations, interacting with passengers and managing inflight service. This hands-on experience allows flight attendants to practice their skills in a risk-free environment, gaining confidence and expertise before facing real-life challenges.
VR training can be cost-effective, as it reduces the need for expensive physical training setups and aircraft utilization for training purposes. Additionally, the ability to repeat scenarios and receive immediate feedback enables flight attendants to continuously improve their performance and adapt to different situations.
Training Aviation Ground Staff
VR technology could also potentially benefit aviation ground staff, such as airport operations personnel, ground handling agents and baggage handlers.
Training in a virtual environment may be able to provide a realistic experience of managing airport operations, handling baggage, marshaling aircraft and coordinating ground movements. VR simulations can simulate various weather conditions and high-pressure scenarios, allowing ground staff to practice their tasks efficiently.
For pilots, VR training can be a valuable tool for enhancing their skills, especially in areas like flight procedures, emergency scenarios and spatial awareness.
VR flight simulators offer a high-fidelity experience, replicating the cockpit environment and flight dynamics accurately. Pilots can practice complex maneuvers, learn to handle challenging weather conditions and experience various aircraft models virtually.
VR training allows pilots to gain experience in rare or dangerous situations without compromising safety. It also facilitates recurrent training and assessments, ensuring pilots remain proficient in their abilities.
Revolutionize Your Aircraft’s Cabin with Innovations from Rosen Aviation
If you’re looking for ways to enhance your aircraft’s passenger experience with state-of-the-art customer-centered technologies, Rosen Aviation may have the right solutions for you.
To learn more about our IFE and cabin display capabilities, call us at 1-888-668-4955.