- KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, the flag carrier of the Netherlands that is part of Air France-KLM group, introduced a mobile app that gives smartphone users a virtual reality (VR) view of flying on one its planes, Fast Company reported. The “Flight Upgrader” app can be used with Google Cardboard or a VR headset to “pretend to fly KLM.”
- The VR session gives users an immersive view of sitting in an aisle seat talking to a flight attendant and watching a movie on the on-board entertainment system. The attendant points out that the amenities are all included in the base ticket price.
- Last month, KLM became the first airline with a verified WhatsApp business account that lets travelers interact by chat messaging. The app helps customers with booking confirmation, check-in notification, boarding pass, flight status updates and getting answers to questions in 10 different languages.
KLM is among the airlines that are testing out VR and augmented reality (AR) apps to promote the amenities they offer on flights, giving consumers an immersive virtual experience that could help them decide which airlines to book a flight on. While a Fast Company columnist says the app comes off as elitist to people who can’t afford to fly on KLM and must resort to virtual reality for a vicarious thrill of flying on a full-fare carrier, millions of travelers still take the airline. The airline is the fourth-biggest carrier in Europe by passenger miles after Ryanair, Lufthansa and IAG.
While VR may be destined to replace travel for many people who don’t want to bother to leave home to elbow their way through the crowds at the Louvre, Disney World or Machu Picchu, KLM has found ways to use the technology both for marketing and training its employees. Last year, the airline showed off the Boeing 787 Dreamliner in a Cardboard VR app, according to a blog post. Earlier this year, KLM began using VR simulations to train mechanics on how to cope with a fire or other emergency, Diginomica reported.
In July, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific launched a marketing campaign that featured an 360-degree mobile video ad. By tapping on the mobile ad, viewers can look around one of the airline's first class cabins and interact with the setting. The ad let viewers tap hot spots in the video to learn more about features of the cabin. The ad included a "book now" button to encourage viewers to make flight reservations.