When you’re on a plane, do you wish you were anywhere else?
Well, if you’re flying British Airways, you can at least pretend. That’s because the airline is testing a virtual reality experience as part of their in-flight entertainment program. BA passengers can now escape the drudgery of flying by “transporting” themselves to another world entirely.
There are a couple of catches, of course.
First, the virtual reality experience is only available on select flights from London to New York until the end of 2019. And second, you can only get it in first class – at least for now.
How’s it work? Passengers simply put on a pair of virtual reality headsets, kick back in their ultra-comfortable (and expensive) seats, and disappear into the movie or travel program of their choice. They can view their selected program in 2D, 3D or 360 degree formats.
Afraid to fly? British Airways has you covered there, too. In addition to entertainment options, nervous passengers can access therapeutic programs, including sound therapy and guided meditation.
“We are always looking at the latest technology to enhance our customers’ experience on the ground and in the air,” said Sajida Ismail, BA’s head of in-flight product, in a statement.
Before virtual reality became available on their flights, British Airways trialed the headsets at Heathrow’s Terminal 5. There, passengers could check out BA’s Club World cabin with VR.
The headsets were designed by SkyLights, a company that specializes in creating immersive entertainment for flights and airport lounges. According to their website, they were the first company to offer virtual reality as passenger entertainment.
But British Airways isn’t the first airline to offer VR. A few years ago, Qantas used Samsung headsets to test virtual reality on their aircraft. And in 2018, Lufthansa launched its VR Moving Map, offering passengers the chance to “experience” excursions that are available on the ground.