US carrier Alaska Airlines revealed last week that it is to introduce a virtual reality entertainment option on board, becoming the first to offer such a product in the domestic US market. Before we all get very excited, this deployment is just a trial and will only be available as a First Class amenity in a couple markets, but it still represents a significant move forward in premium in-flight entertainment (IFE) delivery.
- Alaska Airlines will trial a virtual reality entertainment option on board its aircraft on two of its routes, becoming the first to use the technology in the US domestic market;
- The US carrier will use SkyLights’ Allosky cinematic virtual reality entertainment as a First Class amenity on flights linking Boston to Seattle and San Diego;
- The end-to-end solution, enables passengers to escape to another world and enjoy 2D, 3D and forward-facing 360° films on a Full HD cinema screen;
- SkyLights has also partnered with STELIA Aerospace and InSeat solutions to offer cinematic virtual reality IFE integrated into business class seats.
Alaska Airlines has entered into a partnership with SkyLights, a relative newcomer to the IFE market. The American-French company was established in 2015 by a former Air France executive and pilot, a virtual reality enthusiast and a video streaming entrepreneur and is working to provide airlines with immersive virtual reality technology. It has already secured customers in Europe, but Alaska Airlines represents a breakthrough in North America.
The airline will use SkyLights’ new Allosky Cinematic virtual reality entertainment as a First Class amenity on flights linking Boston to Seattle and San Diego. The end-to-end solution, enables passengers to escape to another world and enjoy 2D, 3D and forward-facing 360° films on a Full HD cinema screen.
“Alaska Airlines is excited to be the first airline in North America to trial virtual reality headsets as an inflight entertainment device. We’re thrilled to partner with innovative companies like SkyLights that share our desire to enhance the guest experience,” says Brett Catlin, managing director of guest products at Alaska Airlines.
In terms of content, passengers onboard the trial flights will be able to choose from a selection of 2D and 3D blockbusters provided by SkyLights’ partners 20th Century Fox, Warner Brothers and EIM. The Allosky will also be preloaded with forward-facing 360° films to further differentiate the passenger journey. Especially selected for their suitability to view inflight, the short VR films cover subjects including freediving, classical music and acrobatics.
“The Allosky is now ready to deploy and we are delighted to see it take flight with an airline renowned for its customer experience. We strongly believe the Allosky marks a new age in in-flight entertainment and we aim to validate this in North America with the help of Alaska’s First Class passengers,” says David Dicko, CEO, SkyLights.
The company says its virtual reality products have already been deployed on more than 5,000 commercial flights with an average four hour usage time and 90% passenger recommendation rate. Its previous Bravo headset was first used by French carriers XL Airways and Corsair in 2017. This year, Joon has joined the airline users while Air France has using it at its Paris Charles De Gaulle hub and Emirates Airline and Etihad Airways have also piloted the equipment in their own lounges.
Separately, SkyLights has also partnered with STELIA Aerospace and InSeat solutions to offer cinematic virtual reality IFE integrated into business class seats, a new in-seat solution planned as a line-fit product for airlines looking to upgrade and differentiate their business class. The new product, which combines SkyLights’ Allosky headset, STELIA Aerospace’s new Opal business class seat and InSeat Solutions’ interactive massage system, was revealed at the recent APEX Expo in Boston, USA.