Qatar Airways has made some big moves in the realm of virtual reality in the past year. After teaming up with Rolls-Royce in April 2019 for VR training, the airline is now integrating the technology into its customer experience. As of mid-February, the airline has been offering a VR experience as part of its inflight entertainment offering on a pilot basis.
Using VR headsets, passengers have access to fresh content – a completely different inflight entertainment experience. According to Runway Girl Network, this system is exclusively available to Qsuite and business class travelers on flights between Doha to Singapore and London. It is being offered on a pilot basis from mid-February to mid-March on these routes only.
“We are excited to have the opportunity of working with Qatar Airways. They have continued to put the customer first and remain a game-changer in the aviation industry, proving time and again why they are masters of their craft”, -Moritz Engler, CEO of Inflight VR
Brought to you by Inflight VR
The technology Qatar Airways is using comes from a company by the name of Inflight VR. The virtual reality company, based in Munich (Germany), serves in the travel and leisure industry.
The company is already doing business with a number of established airlines and other travel companies. These include:
- Spanish flag-carrier Iberia
- Turkey-based holiday airline SunExpress
- Star Alliance (within its lounges)
- and European budget bus company FlixBus
In the case of Iberia, Inflight VR provided the airline with approximately 21 devices per aircraft for a six month trial period. Devices were offered on routes flights to New York, Miami and Tel Aviv from their Madrid hub. Available in both business and economy class, passengers could rent the devices for a small fee.
The company reports that a very high customer satisfaction rate with an equally high rating on usability for passengers. In fact, some passengers were using the device for up to five hours.
Inflight VR says it has entered into the next stage with Iberia, equipping the entire business class as on select routes well as the lounges in Madrid with headsets. However, this doesn’t seem to have rolled out yet as the airline doesn’t officially seem to offer it yet.
While no one is really complaining about normal 2D entertainment (aside from old seatback systems), the prospect of having more virtual reality experiences onboard aircraft will offer some advantages in the future.
Passengers can get an immersive entertainment experience while airlines could theoretically save on the cost of installing full systems in their aircraft. The benefits of this could be big as the airline would also save on fuel due to the decrease in onboard weight relative to the weight of a VR headset.
Of course, if this becomes the norm then there are a few challenges to overcome. This might include the added task of hygiene and cleaning of headsets after every flight, as well as showing non-tech-savvy passengers how to properly use the devices.
Do you think virtual reality headsets are the future of inflight entertainment? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.