As of 7 August, Air France has been providing business class travellers with virtual reality headsets on flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Saint Martin.
On certain long-haul flights (currently between Paris-CDG and Saint-Martin in the Caribbean), Air France business class passengers now have four virtual reality headsets available to them, specially designed to be used on board aircraft by a company called SkyLights, who have forged a partnership with the airline to drive this initiative.
The headsets – which comprise ultralight glasses with a noise-reduction audio headset to enable total immersion – make it possible for the passengers to watch around 40 films and series in 2D or 3D virtual reality, seeing the entertainment from a new angle and feeling as if they are part of the experience.
The A340 has this had this "immersive entertainment system with virtual reality headsets" since 1 August on all flights between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and Saint-Martin, in the Caribbean, as reported by Air&Cosmos.
Innovative partnership with SkyLights
"This experience demonstrates the importance of enriching the client experience using original and innovative solutions," said Air France in a press release.
The airline is hoping to underline its flair for innovation – thus setting it apart from the competition and attracting new business – via its partnership with SkyLights, which in turn is hoping to leverage Air France’s reputation in order to "continue to develop and improve its solution". This strategy would appear to be paying off, as the recently-formed start-up already took home the "Les As de l’Innovation" award at the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget in June 2017.
Virtual reality coming to all flights?
Does this mean that virtual reality headsets will soon be on board all Air France flights? This is by no means out of the question. According to the airline, the equipment that is currently fitted to the A340s operating between Paris-CDG and Saint Martin is part of a test run. "The new system could be used on other flights on the coming months," a spokesperson said.
XL Airways also offers SkyLights headsets which can be hired for 15 euros, as does French railway operator SNCF as of July on its Paris – Milan line (first class only). Meanwhile, Australian airline Qantas has also experimented with virtual reality on board since 2015, offering Samsung headsets to its passengers in first class, for them to watch footage taken at emblematic landmarks around Australia.
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