Future tech

Immersive cinema glasses? Bars and sofas in economy? New ideas for in-flight entertainment

Airlines are constantly thinking up new ways to upgrade the passenger experience, including moving away from a ‘seat-centric’ set-up

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 7:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 September, 2016, 7:00am

Wearable theatre is a new concept that seeks to take in-flight entertainment beyond the seat-back screen.

SkyTheater, immersive cinema glasses capable of showing 2D and 3D films, were tried out earlier this year by XL Airways France on its routes from Paris. The wearer has the sensation of seeing a large cinema screen in their field of view that shuts out the rest of the cabin.

“In-flight entertainment is one of the main concerns of passengers these days”, says Laurent Magnin, chief executive of XL Airways France. “We don’t have individual seat-back screens; we want our passengers to bring their own device, rent a tablet, and, in the near future, rent immersive cinema glasses.”

Something similar is being offered by the Avegant Glyph headset, which gives the impression of watching an 80-inch screen. These are transparent, allowing flight attendants to easily catch get the attention of the wearer.

For now, only first class passengers get bars and sofas, but this could all change soon as flights become personalised packages of upgrades, access cards and in-flight entertainment options.

The future of in-flight entertainment has you in control via your mobile device

“The opportunities for entertainment spread beyond the individual passenger’s seat and out into new spaces on board,” says Hugo Jamson, associate director at London-based creative agency New Territory, who thinks that airline seats are currently being asked to work too hard, and that new spaces for dining, working and even gaming are inevitable.

“These spaces will break down the ‘seat-centricity’ of the flight experience,” says Jamson. The result, he says, will be a “more natural” travel experience.

From Wi-fi and apps to streaming and new spaces to relax, airlines are out to create a home away from home – but at a price. That stash of frequent-flier points might yet come in handy.