back to article If bigger seats and nicer nosh in British Airways' First Class still aren't enough, would sir like to wear some VR goggles?

Good news for well-heeled British Airways customers! Now you can transport yourself away from the carrier's aircraft interior through the wizardry of Virtual Reality. Sadly, the idiot visors only get handed out on the aeroplane so will be of little use to those left to endure the consequences of whatever IT issue has befallen …

  1. LeahroyNake Silver badge

    USB charger

    One of my customers makes the 'seats' for business / first class seats. Not sure I can call them seats exactly rather than amazingly engineered works of art. I doubt I could ever afford to sit in one on a flight but the showroom models I have tried are almost a comfy as my sofa. Flatscreen TV, motorised adjustment, some of them even turn into a small bed. They also weigh less than my office chair.

    As stated in the article give it to cattle class, the only issue being the lack of USB chargers in the cheap seats. If it has noise cancelling headphones :o

    1. Martin Summers Silver badge

      Re: USB charger

      While the rich are stuck in the VR world they aren't asking for expensive champagne refills and bothering the crew. It's a good investment. Cattle class will similarly probably soon get drip fed sedatives/legal highs, so they too don't bother the stewards and they can have one person looking after them all.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: USB charger

        >Cattle class will similarly probably soon get drip fed sedatives/legal highs,

        Or illegal highs if the bags burst on a flight from South America, a bit more quickly than a drip feed mind.

    2. Annihilator

      Re: USB charger

      On long haul flights (which I'm assuming this service is part of), USB sockets have been standard on all seats with BA for a while now. There's also often a 3-pin power socket in the vicinity too (usually between the seats, at foot level).

    3. Warm Braw Silver badge

      Re: USB charger

      According to this interesting video report on airline seating (yes, it appears to be possible!), a typical business class seat costs $30k to $80k ...

      You may have to click on the page to activate the video.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: USB charger

        I guess that is what they charge, not what they cost? Materials and labour are probably tiny. Other than the warranty, I would expect a lot of that is to share the profit the airline is going to be making.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: USB charger

          "I guess that is what they charge, not what they cost?"

          You'd be amazed how much engineering work goes into a *cattle* class seat; they have to be light, extremely durable, and are supposed to remain intact and attached to the rails in the floor in the event of a (survivable) crash. The manufacturer has to be able to show calculations (or tests!) to prove this. Business class seats have similar requirements but more bells and whistles.

          With business class seats, there is a likelyhood that some parts of the design are used for a single combination of aircraft and buyer, because they will want *their* seats to look different from other airlines too, so each design might only be manufactured for a few thousand seats. Small(ish) batch sizes lead to big costs when you have to have unique tooling for each batch because each customer wants a slightly different curved shape.

        2. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: USB charger

          > I guess that is what they charge, not what they cost? Materials and labour are probably tiny.

          Yet again a Reg commenter has ignored the cost of research, development, design, testing and tooling, and failed to appreciate the relatively low number of units these costs are shared across.

          You can only approximate design and tooling costs to zero if you're making millions of units.

    4. Kevin McMurtrie Silver badge

      Re: USB charger

      Long flights have USB chargers in freight class too. You don't want all the passengers getting grumpy when their phone dies and they have to switch to the barely-working seat screen showing heavily edited movies from last year. That's why I'm not buying a phone without a headphone jack until there's a second USB-C port to enable charging while listening.

      1. Michael B.

        Re: USB charger

        You can buy splitters that allow you to charge via USB-C and listen to headphones via 3.5mm.

  2. jtaylor

    Delightful descriptions

    Hang the VR. While reading this article, I can almost taste the airplane cabin. "The distressing stains left by the last disappointed passenger" indeed!

    I'd be happy if the nauseous passengers are all in First. Those of us who are easily nauseated will appreciate the distance.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Upgrading" the interior of their planes

    What I think you'll find they're doing is squeezing an extra seat into every row in economy as part of these refits. If you have anything approximating shoulders, avoid, like the plague...

  4. Patched Out

    The Puke-O-Matic

    If some VR systems can cause motion sickness in a stationary room, how is this going to work on a moving aircraft?!?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Don't forget about us mere mortals in Cattle class

    BA are adding an extra row of benches to Cattle Class. With a 27in Thigh Bone that is going to make travel of more than 1-2 hours impossible for me.

    Bloody Awful if you ask me.

    Mind you most other airlines are not much better for those suffering in steerage.

    1. tfewster Silver badge
      Joke

      Re: Don't forget about us mere mortals in Cattle class

      BA plan to fit oars in Economy class (or maybe pedals linked to a fan, saving on A/C).

      And then they can save on gadgets for Business class passengers by letting them have whips instead.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Incidentally, you can fly to New York's JFK airport in British Airways First Class tomorrow for £9,443 (according to the company's website). Or you could do it in Economy for £1,581"

    I know someone who used to have business trips out to the Gulf area when British Caledonian were still independant and competing with BA ... this was also in the days when you could transfer tickets from one airline to another (I assume there was some inter-aitrline mechanism for reconciling the revenues). He said back in those days the trick was for the flight back to the UK to buy an economy ticket on one airline and then at the airport go to the other's checkin and say that you'd switch to them if there was an upgrade to business class available - this was pretty much guaranteed as the route was over supplied with both BA and BCal running parallel flights. After this you then went back to the original airline to suggest that oif there was an upgrade to first class available (again normally possible) then you'd not switch to the rivals. He said he once asked the in-flight crew why the airline did this and was told that basically as far as the airline was concerned once you'd paid to get on the plane then wherever you sat didn't really affect their revenue so even if, as he said happened on occasions, you sat in first class with passengers in that cabin outnumbered by stewardesses it made no difference to the airlines bottom line that you'd actually only paid for an economy ticket.

  7. ma1010 Silver badge
    Joke

    And in related news...

    Those flying on the new, improved 737 MAX plane will be issued free pairs of Joo Janta 200 peril-sensitive sunglasses. Guaranteed to help you have a more relaxed attitude towards danger.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: And in related news...

      Share and enjoy

  8. Ali Dodd

    Rubbish VR

    1080p res? Welcome to 2016 and a lovely screen door effect.Sounds like one company has found a way to clear out their warehouse of crappy old headsets. First class better stock up on headache tablets and sick bags if the refresh is as crappy.

    VR is looking at 2880 x 1600 (QHD) now for a good headset and some are 4k. It's not the same a screen size and it makes a huge difference.

  9. elwe

    It is only selected flights from Heathrow to JFK. And when you read the small print it is only one flight, BA117, on selected days.

    I am flying LHR-JFK in first tomorrow, but not on BA117, so no chance of getting to see how bad the headsets are. Oh well, I will just hit the champagne doubly hard to compensate. Maybe next time I will book BA117 instead.

  10. DrXym Silver badge

    Underwhelming

    If these headsets are 1920x1080 per eye then there are 1920 pixels for the horizontal field of view - approximately 100 degrees.

    A cinema screen doesn't occupy the entire field of view. Instead it is ~30 degree view for comfort. So any virtual screen playing in your VR headset has an effective resolution of 576 pixels in the horizontal. The vertical FOV is greater so typically VR headsets have more pixels in the vertical but this doesn't appear to be the case here so the vertical pixels will be stretched.

    So people travelling in premier class are going to be sorely disappointed with the quality of these headsets. Movies aren't going to look very good at all, probably even worse looking than standard definition. On top of that they might suffer screen door effect and other VR effects. I think these gimmicks will enjoy a very short novelty factor before people start just watching films on their normal entertainment screens.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Hand them out at check-in... for that sensation of taking off and flying while stuck in the airport because of delays/cancellations/strikes and for that sensation of picking up your luggage at the far end while waiting to find your own has been lost/misrouted/damaged

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