British Airways Passengers Are Getting VR

Published on August 16, 2019

First class passengers on certain British Airways flights could be given special VR headsets as part of their entertainment set up in the near future. The airline is testing whether or not the feature would be popular on its long haul flights as a way to help keep passengers distracted during the duration of the flight. This is not the first time that VR has been tested on long haul flights, but bulky equipment and a lack of entertainment options has dissuaded passengers from using the equipment in the past. British Airways will apparently be combating that with a wide variety of content, as well as new, lighter equipment.

SkyLights Headsets Will Be Lighter Than Others On The Market

British Airways revealed that it will be using SkyLights VR headsets on its flights that offer VR programming. The headsets appear to be lighter than other products on the market, and weigh only 250 grams (which is about eight ounces). Another reason that VR headsets have not appeared to be successful in the past is because they require movement in order to fully take in the scene in the equipment. The SkyLights VR headsets will apparently work without movement, and passengers can even use them while laying down in the fully reclining first-class seats.

The airline will also be offering a wide variety of content available on the platform. First class customers will be able to watch movies in 2D, as well as 3D and 360-degree formats on the VR headsets. The content available on the headsets will range from popular movies to guided meditations that aim to ease passengers’ nerves—particularly for those that have anxiety or a fear of flying.

Don’t get too excited, though, because the airline will only be offering the VR headsets on select flights between London’s Heathrow Airport and New York’s John F. Kennedy airport. Additionally, the airline will only be offering the VR headsets to passengers in first class, but could be expanding to other flight paths in the future. The airline ran trials of the headset in Heathrow airport previously, where it allowed its customers to get a virtual tour of the first class Club World cabin.

Not The First Airline To Offer VR

Back in 2017, the popular tech blog called The Verge partnered with Jet Blue to offer disposable VR headsets that customers could put their phones into to create a VR experience. The headsets lets customers on select flights watch a curated playlist of Youtube videos on the flight. The program tested whether or not VR would be a successful product to launch in the commercial airline industry. Jet Blue has since stopped handing out the headsets, but consumer interest has been piqued.

British Airways felt that VR would be a promising feature on its long-haul flights, and made the announcement that it would be offering the platform to certain passengers earlier this month in a press release. ““We are always looking at the latest technology to enhance our customers’ experience on the ground and in the air,” said the Head of Inflight Product, Sajida Ismail. Consumers can test out the headsets in first class cabins on selected flight paths between now and the start of 2020.


Julia Sachs is a former Managing Editor at Grit Daily. She covers technology, social media and disinformation. She is based in Utah and before the pandemic she liked to travel.

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