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Apr 19, 2019,  by Allianz Partners Business Insights

Virtual reality: Iberia teams up with Inflight VR for some of its long-haul flights

Iberia Airlines is banking on virtual reality to entertain its passengers on long-haul flights, having announced a partnership with the company Inflight VR. For a six-month trial period, the carrier will be renting out headsets on flights operating between Madrid and New York and Madrid and Tel Aviv. Should the trial prove a success, the technology will be rolled out to other routes.


Spanish carrier Iberia Airlines has announced that it is trialling a new form of in-flight entertainment (IFE): virtual reality for its passengers. Supplied by the company Inflight VR, VR headsets will be offered on daily routes between Madrid and New York and Madrid and Tel Aviv. The headsets will be available for a rental fee of 6 euros, as reported by the business magazine Forbes.


A wide selection of 3D and 360° films and games


A total of 21 Pico VR headsets will available on each New York flight and 12 on the Tel Aviv route. A joint release stated that passengers will have a wide range of 3D and 360º games, films, documentaries and city travelogues to choose from.

While Iberia existing IFE systems will not be loaded on to the VR headsets as part of the six-month trial, Inflight CEO Nikolas Jaeger said they may well be added at a later stage. On completion of the trial, lberia and Inflight will decide on formal pricing and whether to expand the service to more flights.


Potential downsides


Forbes reported that airlines are reluctant to use third-party IFE solutions for a variety of reasons, namely complications surrounding the handling of hardware, margins and safety. There is also the issue of the cost of maintaining headsets and the additional weight they bring on board eating into profitability. Passengers will also need to overcome any concerns they may have about wearing a VR headset in public. 

In embarking on their partnership, Inflight and Iberia are following in the footsteps of Alaska Airlines and Skylights VR, who announced a similar venture last December.


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