Once upon a time, the only thing to do on an airplane was read, stare at the seat in front of you, or flirt with the person beside you. Nowadays, many airlines have in-flight entertainment systems and most passengers have tablet computers loaded with music and video content. But Australia’s Qantas is flying straight into the future with its latest announcement.
The company has inked a deal with Samsung to put its smartphone-powered virtual reality system on some of its flights in a three-month trial run . Qantas will have a few Samsung Gear VR headsets and the Galaxy Note 4s that power it on select flights between Australia and Los Angeles, as well as in its first-class lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. As you may have guessed, the toys are only for fliers who are willing to shell out money for premium seats. And there won’t be any binge-watching of your favourite shows because passengers have a limited amount of time with the device and have to share it with their cabin mates.
In addition to entertainment, Qantas plans on using the VR sets as a tourism and advertising vehicle. Users will be able to take virtual tours of travel destinations, airports and lounges, and watch the plane land from a runway worker’s perspective.
Qantas is probably doing the right thing by testing the system before outfitting its entire fleet. One of the problems plaguing VR systems is the motion sickness it causes in some people, a phenomenon that scientists have yet to fully understand. Maybe Qantas should order some extra barf bags in the meantime.