Reading books and watching movies are perfectly fine ways to kill time during a flight, but what if you could immerse yourself in a new world while in the air? Australian airline Qantas wants to provide that experience. The flight company has partnered with Samsung to provide Gear VR headsets to select First Class customers, so you can escape to somewhere else while... escaping to somewhere else.
Currently available for sale as a $199 early adopter Innovator Edition, the standard version of Gear VR connects to a Galaxy Note 4 phone to provide 360-degree virtual reality experiences. The device will be customized for Qantas flights, with content that includes virtual tours of the company's international lounges, as well as the ability to watch a plane landing from the tarmac's perspective.
There's no word whether existing Gear VR content like Temple Run and Cirque du Soleil will be viewable on Qantas planes, but the company does promise that you'll be able to watch blockbuster movies using the virtual reality headset.
Gear VR headsets will be available in the First Class section of select Qantas A380 airplanes, as well as the company's International First Lounges in Sydney and Melbourne. Qantas plans to offer the service as a three-month trial run, which the company will use to assess how in-flight VR can be optimized for the future. Assuming that Qantas' version of Gear VR will also run on Galaxy Note 4 smartphones, the airline will likely have to find a way to fasten the phones to the headset in order to prevent theft.
While getting lost in virtual reality sounds like an excellent way to quell the monotony of flying, it also could spell bad news for anyone who already gets motion sickness on planes. The long list of Gear VR health disclaimers on Best Buy's website already advises against using the device in a moving vehicle. It also recommends that you shouldn't use Gear VR when tired, drunk, sick or hungover -- all things you might already be feeling once you take off.
Still, we found that the current iteration of Gear VR offers plenty of fun VR experiences, and, if optimized correctly for flights, the device could make your next 12-hour overseas trip significantly more bearable.