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Spanish airline company Iberia Airlines rolls out VR based in-flight entertainment

Spanish carrier Iberia has collaborated with Inflight VR to extend its range of on-board entertainment offerings with VR glasses and three-dimensional content.

Iberia, the national carrier of Spain, is in the process of testing out a new type of in-flight entertainment using virtual reality (VR) headsets for its passengers. Inflight VR, a European startup company, is responsible for the entertainment solution for Iberia. The virtual reality company is bringing alive the vision of introducing VR headsets on aircrafts, with the vision of upgrading or replacing existing entertainment mechanisms.

In collaboration with Inflight VR, Iberia is expanding its onboard entertainment offering with virtual reality glasses and 3D content. Credit: IberiaInflight VR

Iberia and Inflight released a statement recently, in which they effectively announced the testing out of the virtual reality technology on up a couple of routes. This includes two daily Madrid and New York City routes, and another route connecting Madrid to Tel Aviv. Passengers on-board Iberia flights can rent Inflight Pico VR headsets for a fee of 6€, on the designated routes.

Inflight is set to include 21 virtual reality headsets on each New York flight, and 12 on the flights connecting to Tel Aviv. Crew members, however, will not receive any training regarding the use of these VR headsets. Crews will be responsible for passing on instructions to passengers regarding the wearing and operation of the devices.

IFE platform [Image: Inflight VR]
Inflight will offer a lot in terms of content for the passengers of Iberia. The headsets will feature entertainment forms like 3D games, movies, urban travel documentaries and travelogues, and 360-degree games. The currently existing Iberia entertainment catalogue will not be loaded into the headsets. Nikolas Jaeger, the CEO of Inflight, the key focus content-wise, is on 360 VR offerings. He remarked that in the future there might be a possibility of the company adding its in-flight entertainment movie catalogue onto the virtual reality headsets.

The testing phase for the technology on the Tel Aviv and New York City routes is set to run for a period of six months. Following the tests, the company will look towards determining formal price rates and take a decision regarding whether the service will be extended to the larger network of Iberia flights.

The adoption of this new technology among passengers can be a difficult proposition. Historically, airlines have not shown much interest in the introduction of third-party and independent entertainment offerings on-board their flights. The concerns seem to be revolving around aspects including profit margins, safety, and hardware. The revenues generated from passenger rentals, which amount approximately to 126 Euros per flight in a single direction, also need to be justified due to expenses related to headset maintenance and weights.

There are also real concerns regarding the readiness of passengers. The average passenger might not be able to become comfortable with wearing a virtual reality headset in a public setting. The proposition of getting away from the cabin is weary for some, and yet a benefit for others.

Iberia and Inflight are joining forces with the common aim of revolutionising in-flight entertainment with virtual reality.

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