So, one day I randomly decided I wanted to take a trip to the UK, where some of my best friends are. I hit up orbitz.com, found me some cheap rates, and booked my flight on Virgin Atlantic. Few months later, over winter break, I’m on my way to Newark Liberty International Airport for my flight to London-Heathrow, a 7-hour flight. Sounds like a boring flight.
Actually, I got on the plane, and they had some nifty entertainment systems on board. Each seat had it’s own display and control. There were 35 movies you could choose from (albeit only about 10 or so were *good*), and it was like Comcast’s onDemand service. You could start the movie at any time, and pause, rewind, or fast forward it, at your convenience.
There were also about 25 different TV shows, both British and American, and probably 5-8 episodes of each show, and you could also start those when you felt like it. Same as with the movies, these could be controlled completely at your command.
Also on this system there was an interactive map. It not only showed your trip route, and how far along you were, but also your speed, direction and ETAs. It was interesting, although it did somewhat seem to make the flight longer, watching the minutes tick down, one by one. So I didn’t watch that for long. Another nifty feature was the ability to SMS message (text messages, like on your mobile phone) from the plane, at only £2.50 per outgoing message, or £2.00 per incoming ($5.00 and $4.00 respectively).
“But this *is* a gaming thing right? WHAT does this have to do with gaming?!”
Oh, would you quit whining? I’m getting there.
SO! As if all that wasn’t enough, there were video games on this flight. That’s right, video games. About 20 of them. And decent ones too. Games like Super Mario World, Dr. Mario, Chess, F-Zero, and Who Wants to be a Millionaire. You play using the horizontally-held phone-and-remote-control-in-one unit. On one side, it’s a phone, held (traditionally) vertically. But flip it over, and it’s a remote control & game pad, held horizontally. Even cooler is that you can “link up” to another seat on the flight and play games with them. Provided they have the link-up function enabled. Unfortunately, that means you can’t just start challenging random seats to games, as much fun as that would be.
The fact that there were games on the flight was just excellent. It means I didn’t have to take out my laptop once (except to write this article!), which is a good thing, cause my laptop was a really tight fit in those seats. I also didn’t have to finish that book I was reading. It’s a good idea that I think airlines should consider investing further in.
One would think that two on-board media servers wouldn’t be able to handle such a load as about 400 people. One would, however, be wrong. Granted, some of the menus got a little laggy, but all-in-all, it works well. All-in-all, I was rather impressed by the entertainment, it masked the sardine-like cramped seat space rather well. The food, though, well, what do you expect from an airline?