Skip to main content

Airplane Mode is a real-time flight simulator—but you're not the pilot

For Hosni Auji, the developer behind upcoming flight simulation game Airplane Mode, the gruelling realism of Microsoft Flight Simulator franchise was apparently not mundane enough. There's a chance something exciting might happen if you're a pilot, so Airplane Mode looks instead to the unsung heroes of aviation: passengers stuck in economy for six hours. 

Billing itself as "the only flight simulation game where players can experience the intense excitement of being an economy class passenger on a long-haul flight", Airplane Mode takes ultra-realism to the next level, giving us the chance to experience air travel as we've always known it: in an uncomfortable seat (next to a window, if you're lucky), and of course, in real time.

In addition to the previously announced six hour mode—which will see the player experience a simulated flight from New York's JFK Airport to Reykjavik, Iceland—Auji has recently revealed a shorter mode, where the destination out of JFK is the relatively nearby Canadian city of Halifax, Nova Scotia: a mere two-and-a-half hours away.

Players will be spoiled for choice as to how to pass this time: with full access to the contents of your hand luggage (including a book and a mobile phone—the latter, hopefully, in airplane mode) and the possibilities of the in-flight magazine and seat-back entertainment system to explore, those few hours are bound to just fly by. Randomised events like turbulence, crying babies, landing delays, and many more of the mundane thrills of airline travel will occur now and again to add a little mystique to your simulated journey.

With commercial flights a distant and exotic memory for most of us in 2020, will Airplane Mode be the tonic we need to alleviate the boredom of holidaying in our own living rooms? Probably not—the game is, after all, an obvious troll, openly acknowledging its debt to notorious tedium simulators such as Penn and Teller's Desert Bus and Getting Over It with Bennett Foddy. The latter gentleman even provides the voice of the captain in Airplane Mode, in case you were in any doubt about how self-aware this gag is.

Promising "a more realistic depiction of how people really fly than even the most ambitious AAA flight simulations launching in 2020", the creators of Airplane Mode have clearly thrown down the gauntlet. Placing the game in direct competition with this month's latest entry into the long-running Microsoft Flight Simulator series is a bold move. But publishers AMC are quick to boast that Airplane Mode features no lengthy tutorials or complex mechanics, and is one of the few games which can technically be played while unconscious—which is definitely not something Flight Simulator can claim. Your move, Microsoft.

Airplane Mode is due for release on PC and Mac in Fall 2020. No price has been announced yet, but there is a Steam page that offers a tantalising look at some of the exciting activities you can get up to on your flight.