Iberia takes a further step into virtual reality with six month onboard IFE trial

After a successful trial last year both at Iberia’s Premium Lounges at Madrid Airport and during a return flight between Madrid and Tel Aviv, the Spanish flag carrier and Inflight VR have begun further testing of a virtual reality inflight entertainment (IFE) system. A six month trial starting this week (from 18-Feb-2019) sees passengers able to rent headsets on Iberia’s twice daily Madrid–New York and once daily Madrid–Tel Aviv flights for a EUR6 fee.

The second-generation Pico VR headsets will enable passengers to experience 3-D and VR content including games, films, city travelogues and documentaries, as well as immersive VR experiences such as dives into the Red Sea. The trial will test different content to that previously used, as well as a lighter headset. If they prove popular, Iberia confirms it will consider rolling out the devices on other medium- and long-haul routes or whether to amend the rental fee.

Inflight VR was one of the companies chosen to take part in the second Hangar 51 programme, a global start-up accelerator project launched by Iberia’s parent International Airlines Group (IAG) to collaborate with disruptive companies that can revolutionise the aviation industry and improve customer experience.

“We think virtual reality has a great potential and it can change the air passenger experience as a part of the in-flight entertainment programme. The viewer is no longer a mere observer, but can take a stroll in the city he or she will be visiting, or simply relax before arriving at the destination,” explains Nikolas Jaeger, founder and managing director of Inflight VR.

The VR-powered IFE platform allows for many different third-party application integrations ranging from VR storytelling to destination-based content, such as sightseeing tours or tourist shopping. The platform has the potential to be an entirely new form of an IFE that is generating revenue for airlines.

Iberia is working to become a digital connected airline as part of its Plan de Futuro. The use of new technologies such as VR is part of it as one of the customer engagement initiatives included in the phase two of the programme.