PALO ALTO, CA – Mark Zuckerberg greeted citizens of the metaverse with a special announcement on Thursday. American Airlines would start to offer services within the virtual space the company, Meta (formerly known as Facebook) has created.
Physical World Meets Digital World
Joining millions of consumers and dozens of brands, American Airlines has brought the company into the Metaverse virtual reality environment, and it’s shockingly realistic.
“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome one of the world’s largest airlines to the Metaverse.” Zuckerberg said before an audience of 750 that had gathered from across the world joining by VR headsets.
For a limited time, consumers in the Metaverse can trial the American Airlines flight experience, opening new travelers up to destinations the carrier currently serves in the real world.
“We wanted to position ourselves in the future of the internet with a mixed reality format that reflects our brand, and real-life experiences, while offering that to others who might not have a chance to try our product.” Chief Commerical Officer, Vasu Raja explained.
The goal of the project is to provide a true-to-life experience. The company also hopes that eventual revenue from the Metaverse will add to the money it makes outside of flying people and cargo, which has historically lost money for the company over the last half-decade.
Unlike a video game, where players might be able to fly the jets, or even operate as ground personnel, consumers are passengers that can go to an airport in the Metaverse and take a flight to someplace new.
“We are trying to be our authentic selves, which is why we uploaded our real-time schedules and flight performance,” Raja added.
Some Metaversians, were a little shocked at how realistic it was.
“I loved the experience of going to the airport because it reflected how it really is. But I didn’t think they would really enforce the 45-minute check-in window so I missed my flight. The planes look cool though.” Doug Stewart, bartender and virtual reality enthusiast noted.
Others took to social media:
“No one can blame tech companies for not making the experience as real as it can be. I sat at the airport for three hours waiting on a [simulated] crew to arrive from another flight. I checked with the gate agent and they just stared back at me without providing any help. So true to my real experience with American.” @FlyGuy1978 commented on Twitter.
“Flying from MIA is so real with @AmericanAir in the #Metaverse. I saw two fights and sat on the plane at the gate for 3 hrs while a real storm passed.” @FutbolNotFootball22 mentioned.
“The social connection is the same as it is in real life. I walked past super judgy people in first class before a seatmate saw me sit next to them and promptly put in headphones.” @SweetCarolineBahbahbah added.
Bugs To Work Out
When asked if mirroring the carriers’ real-time statistics for flight performance was a good introduction to the airline, Raja fired back. “We might have some bugs to work out with our operations in the Metaverse, but overall it’s a great product.”
One TTN reporter shot back, “If those flights reflect performance in the real world, are the bugs in the Metaverse or with American’s operations in the real world?” American Airlines Zoom connection failed shortly before Raja could respond. The company cited technical difficulties.
With American Airlines making almost all of its money over the last decade from its frequent flyer program and not from flight activities, the carrier has expressed a desire to return value to shareholders by any method that does not involve running an actual airline.
The company intends to offer status, real-time upgrades, and ancillary charges like checked luggage. Some have questioned the model, given that in the Metaverse, anyone can teleport anywhere, any time but the airline indicated that people “just love flying and will do almost anything for the pleasure.”
American Airlines stock (NASDAQ: AAL) was down 4.2% on the announcement.
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