Air France introduces new virtual reality technology for travel agencies to showcase its business class experience and partners with SkyLights to expand on board entertainment options (Related News). This post continues the discussion with competitive analysis of the virtual reality technology used in the airline industry and new use cases.
Air France is not alone in trialling or adapting virtual reality into operations or passenger experience in the airline industry. However, this technology has not been widely deployed by others due to the following main reasons:
- Lack of contents available for all travellers – Unique contents can be costly to produce and may not have high satisfaction or generate additional revenue
- New technology that has not been adopted as a home entertainment staple and is not a key passenger requirement for inflight offerings
- Lack of suppliers with all-in-one solutions that has the capacity to power the headsets for hundreds of passengers at the same time
When it comes to airlines embracing the uncharted skies, here are some interesting scenarios for use of virtual reality:
- Qantas Airways has the distinction as the world’s first airline to introduce virtual reality headsets in 2015 on board selective Airbus A380 flights in the first class cabin and at its airport lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. The airline has since expanded its virtual reality world by creating a mobile application available across multiple platforms for travellers to experience Australian destinations on and off an aircraft.
- XL Airways based in the United Kingdom is the first airline in 2016 to use the SkyLights headsets. They are pleased thus far with up to 99% satisfaction
- Singapore Airlines created a website with embedded virtual reality tours of its cabins in 2016
- Emirates worked with Google to showcase the technology at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in 2017
- Etihad Airways’ 2016 marketing campaign featuring Nicole Kidman included a virtual reality component showcasing its cabins on board the Airbus A380 with 360 degree views
- Lufthansa has a dedicated mobile application on the iOS or Android platforms with unique 360-degree content that introduces different cabin classes, airplanes and travel destinations served by the Lufthansa Group
- Finnair partners with content provider There Is No Spoon to utilize virtual reality to showcase the airline’s Airbus A350-900 aircrafts
Other Use Cases
There are other use cases for airlines to utilize virtual reality headsets:
- Improving accessibility for people with any impairments – headsets can be used to guide passengers on how to navigate around different parts of the terminal using specific sensory nodes
- Improving wayfinding to, from and around an airport for locals and visitors – headsets can be used to aid passengers navigate through the entire airport experience to ease anxiety
- Extending unique media to allow for continuous viewing from Air France lounge to gate area to on board, which could potentially create a new ancillary revenue stream
- Adding new games and other interactive components (such as shopping, curated tours and educational)
- Improving training for maintenance, on the ground and on board services
- Enhancing the Air France travel agency concept but in a smaller scale so that it can be easily put into place at more travel agencies, tourist destinations and other retail outlets
Air France is introducing virtual reality for its business class passengers in the ticketing process and as part of on board services. The former is a new idea which has not been used in the industry while the latter has been successfully implemented by other airlines. The technology is still relatively new and there are additional use cases that can enhance passenger experience or productivity that have not been incorporate in the airline industry. Expect to see more product / service rollout in 2018 onwards.