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Could the Apple Vision Pro make you like flying economy class (or hate it a little less)?

Understandably, most people consider the Vision Pro a luxury. But what if it could make you feel better and ultimately save you money when you fly?
Written by Chris Matyszczyk, Contributing Writer
Apple Vision Pro straight on

A helpful flight of fancy?

Jason Hiner/ZDNET

Think of all the things you don't really like doing.

Taking the trash out, perhaps. Or talking to neighbors for whom you have little esteem.

I suspect the prospect of flying economy class might even supersede these questionable joys in your level of reluctance to do it.

Also: The best VR headsets right now (and how Apple Vision Pro stacks up)

But please bear with me as I attempt to open your mind a little, while placing some goggles on your head.

You see, I've been thinking a lot about the Apple Vision Pro.

Flying away on a flight

While experiencing an Apple store demo of mankind's new mask, I was struck by how many times I uttered guttural expressions of surprise and wonder within a very short period.

The sense of being in a different world -- while still being vaguely attached to the one you know -- is quite mesmerizing.

Which brings me, quite naturally, to flying.

There have been many times when I've been perched in an economy class seat and wished I could be somewhere other than in an economy class seat.

Perhaps the human being next to me has pulled out their laptop immediately after takeoff, placed it on their tray table, and consistently nudged me with their elbows as they typed for five painful hours. Or six.

Also: Apple Vision Pro review: Fascinating, flawed, and needs to fix 5 things

Or perhaps there was a wailing child, an inconsiderate snorer, or a painfully chatty bore sitting between me and sanity.

What if I could put on my goggles and pretend I simply wasn't there?

When Microsoft advertised Apple

I was inspired to this thought by Microsoft's head of Word -- someone with whom I'd love to have a word or two -- Omar Shahine.

He posted an image of his inflight experience to Threads and offered these words: "Hello from Emirates Flight 230 SEA->DXB where my Apple Vision Pro is connected to in-flight Wi-Fi and I am watching movies and browsing the web using the entire cabin as my screen. This is wild."

You might chuckle that a Microsoft executive created such a fine ad for an Apple product, but the two companies have risen to a simulation of mutual respect in recent years.

Also: Who's afraid of VR? I was - until I tried Meta Quest 3

I am, however, taking an extremely wild guess here, but I fancy that Shahine was flying in a slightly more exalted class than economy. Indeed, when it comes to flying and the Vision Pro, perceptions seem to have been limited to the luxury angle.

Why, the first airline to offer its customers a Vision Pro for their joy and entertainment is Beond Airline. Yes, it prefers to be singular and no, I hadn't heard of it either. Perhaps that's because it's based in the Maldives and promises "luxury at its finest."

Beond's CEO Tero Taskila explained: "The inflight experience will build anticipation for passengers before they arrive in the Maldives."

Ah, so it's a marketing tool as well as a perk? How clever.

A vision of economics

But wait, why am I bleating on about the Apple Vision Pro in economy?

Well, here's what came to my mind. Many people fly economy on a regular basis. And many of those many people are forced to fly by their deliberately parsimonious employers. 

"Oh, you can put up with six hours in coach and still sell our products when you get off the plane -- right, Bertrand?"

Also: 3 Apple Vision Pro mistakes you should avoid at all costs (or you'll lose everything)

Meanwhile, Bertrand -- being only human -- would rather twist his eyebrows off by hand than fly coach, so he spends his own money to pay for an upgrade.

During and since the pandemic, airlines noticed that more and more people were willing to splash out on fancier seats, just to avoid the coach experience. Airlines are now frantically inserting more fancy seats into their planes for that very reason.

So let's hold hands and do some math.

I just searched for a return flight from San Francisco to JFK. The cheapest non-stop option in economy was a highly reasonable $287.

Also: Meta Quest 3 vs. Apple Vision Pro: How accurate was Zuckerberg's review?

Then I performed precisely the same search for Business Class. The cheapest non-stop option was $1,292.

Please attempt to work with me here without prejudice, if you can. Please imagine that the Apple Vision Pro, costing a very elevated $3,499, helps you to disappear to such a degree that you suddenly don't mind -- as much -- flying in coach.

Ergo, you might be saving $1,000 per roundtrip flight. Four of those and you've paid for Vision Pro and bought yourself a very nice dinner. And if you fly internationally on a regular basis, the cost difference between business and coach can run into the many thousands.

Isn't that math you might at least consider?

(And my editor tells me that the $499 Meta Quest 3 also takes him out of his world. So just one round trip flight more than pays for a Quest into the unknown.')

A vision for a flying future?

I'm not necessarily recommending you do this, of course. Your feelings are entirely yours. But I can't help imagining that some enterprising types will weigh the potential.

What if, indeed, there comes a time when the Vision Pro costs less and somehow creates an even more immersive world? What if it truly does make you eschew a fancier seat because you can save some money and not detest the inflight experience in a supposedly inferior cabin?

Also: I found a Vision Pro travel case that's cheaper and somehow better than Apple's

Of course, there are hurdles. 

You'd really have to limit the scope of your gestures in coach so that you don't keep nudging the person next to you. But perhaps you could do that more successfully than when you're sitting next to me with your darned laptop on the tray table.

Indeed, some intrepid travelers have already tried the Vision Pro and reported, like Nikias Molina, happily falling asleep in the mountains projected by their machine.

"Just being somewhere else," said Molina in his video. "It felt so crazy."

We're talking about the future here and, as a sign I saw on a derelict building the other day offered: "The future doesn't exist."

So here we have a product with certain mind-bending qualities. We also have the cost of flying in a vaguely comfortable seat not exactly within reasonable reach for a lot of people, even if they currently decide to spend more just to get away from coach.

Also: The day reality became unbearable: A peek beyond Apple's AR/VR headset

Imagine, then, if you really could get yourself a Vision Pro and give the likes of American Airlines $10,000 less every year?

Is that a vision you could get behind?

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