Inflight entertainment 2.0?
Virgin Atlantic is starting live comedy on its Little Red flights between Heathrow and Manchester or Edinburgh this month. (AFP/Getty Images)
Flyers have become accustomed to airline frugality, especially when it comes to domestic travel. Passengers often have to pay for checked bags, while complimentary food and drink have all but disappeared. Airlines are still competing for passengers, however, and some are finding creative ways to lure people onboard – or at least keep them entertained while in the air.
Virgin Atlantic has just announced that it is booking comedians bound for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the world’s largest art festival, to perform for passengers shuttling between Heathrow and Manchester or Edinburgh this month. UK musicians will then replace comedians as the in-flight acts during September. Shows will take place in the front of the aircraft, but performers also will cruise the aisles and interact with passengers.
Virgin Atlantic has toyed around with live in-flight entertainment in the past, with February’s Gallery in the Air featuring the work of British artist Ben Eine. The colourful, typographic works from the street artist were on display on the walls of the Upper Class cabin on flights between London and New York, as well as available for purchase, priced between £2,500 and £15,000.
Also catering to its top-tier customers, in May Qantas announced its plan to debut a collection of tailored books for its most frequent and valued flyers. Publishing house Hachette is behind the Stories for Every Journey series, where books have been crafted to last the duration of a flight based on average reading time – which is about a page a minute, with meals and bathroom breaks also factored in. The bespoke novels penned by Australian authors range from nonfiction stories to thrillers.
Air Canada has offered niche diversion since 2007 with its annual enRoute Film Festival. Taking in a selection of 16 short films, spanning genres and including some animated entries, passengers can watch homegrown talent and then vote for their favourite of the lot.