British Airways is hoping that VR entertainment might help some of its passengers distract themselves long enough on a flight to forget they’re zooming several hundred miles per hour at tens of thousands of feet above the ground. In a new pilot program, the UK airline announced that it will offer VR headsets from SkyLights for select first class flights between London’s Heathrow and New York’s JFK airports.
The programming includes 2D, 3D, and 360-degree format movies, documentaries, and TV shows as well as guided meditations to help calm the nerves of those who are afraid of flying. (One could argue that first class seating could help mitigate those fears a bit more than those in economy, but phobias are phobias and who am I to judge?) The SkyLights headsets look a lot like goggles and are a lot lighter than other popular headsets, weighing just 250 grams. The company has also worked with Air France and Sri Lankan Airlines to offer the sets in lounges.
VR entertainment on flights hasn’t exactly been a popular idea, but it has been tested in the past by airlines like Qantas and Alaska Airlines. JetBlue has also handed out Google Cardboard headsets to view content in 360 degrees. (The Verge was part of this experiment in 2017.) There’s no indication whether British Airways plans to bring the headsets out of first class, but it’s unlikely to given that it’d be pretty difficult to turn beyond 180 degrees in an economy seat.