Wheels up, chips down: French design consortium develops plans for in-flight casino
French designers unveil plan for mile-high card club with casinos on board airliners
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Friday 30 November 2012
Wheels up, chips down: a French design consortium has come up with a gambling concept that trumps a Ryanair scratchcard.
An on-board casino for first and business-class passengers is on the cards.
The “Casino Jet Lounge” proposed by the Toulouse-based firms, AirJet Designs and Designescence, is “a new entertainment and social space designed for long-haul commercial flights”.
The concept features a bar-lounge area, already familiar to premium passengers on some airlines, with the new twist of a proper blackjack table – bringing new meaning to the term Flight 21.
The idea, say the firms, is to bridge the gap between scheduled flights and private jets, providing “A VIP-type concept with revenue-generating potential [and] bringing back the excitement and glamour associated with air travel in its heyday”.
They have mocked up the forward section of a Boeing 777 to test the concept. On advice from European and American safety experts, gambling will not be permitted during ascent, descent or spells of inflight turbulence.
The plan is revealed in the latest edition of (i) Aircraft Interiors International (/i) magazine. The editor, Adam Gavine, said: “Many airlines like a unique feature onboard their new aircraft, so perhaps a combined bar and card table would work. But airlines go to great lengths to ensure a pleasant flying experience, and an inflight gambling loss could easily spoil that.”
Mr Gavine said card games would prove more successful than roulette: “Gamblers expect roulette tables to be in perfect balance, and that is simply not possible aboard an aircraft”.
Inflight gambling began in the 1980s when Singapore Airlines experimented with installing one-armed bandits aboard Boeing 747s. In the 21st century, Ryanair and other budget airlines have found selling instant-win scratchcards to be a lucrative sideline.
Mark Griffiths, Professor of Gambling Studies at Nottingham Trent University, said there was “no moral reason” why blackjack and other games should not follow: “Gambling has always been considered as a revenue generator for many different types of enterprise and the airline industry is no different.”
But Professor Griffiths warned of the risk of air rage among losing players: “Gambling is a well-known ‘mood modifier’ and wins can make players feel great. Conversely, losses can lead to frustration and irritability, and in extreme cases, anger and aggression. Just like alcohol, excessive use can - in a minority of cases - cause problems for other passengers and airline crew”.
British Airways, the only UK airline flying the 777, said it had no plans to install the casino. It already offers blackjack, roulette and poker games on its inflight entertainment system, but for fun rather than hard cash.
A spokeswoman for Virgin Atlantic said “We have no immediate plans to launch a casino but we have a few surprises up our sleeve for short-haul flights and our 787s”.
Both airlines fly to gambling’s galactic HQ, Las Vegas, but a US law known as the Gorton Amendment prohibits “any gambling device” to be fitted to jets using American airspace.
Even if technical and legal obstacles are overcome, there is still no certainty than the idea will prove financial viable. Douglas McNeill, analyst for Charles Stanley Securities, said: “Airliners cost a fortune to buy and fly around. Every cubic foot of space has to earn its keep, so an inflight casino would have to make big money. Otherwise, the economics demand that the space be given over to paying passengers.”
The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations
- 1 The BBC has just done more to eradicate ‘terrorism’ than all our wars since 9/11
- 2 Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
- 3 Mystery man who gave mum heart-warming note on train 'wanted to put a smile on her face'
- 4 Michelle Obama highlights harsh restrictions faced by Saudi women after meeting King Salman without wearing a headscarf
- 5 Grumpy Roald Dahl letter warning student to 'eschew beastly adjectives' rediscovered after 35 years
Inside Travel: Greece 2015 Q&A - should we cancel our Greek holiday? Are our flights safe? And what will we be spending there?
Australia Day 2015: Best alternative places to visit
The 10 Best hiking boots
Hogwarts Express joins Warner Bros studio tour: The Harry Potter locations you can visit
Solo travel: From learning to surf to crewing a yacht
'We would evict Queen from Buckingham Palace and allocate her council house,' say Greens
French court convicts three over homophobic tweets, in case hailed as a 'significant victory' by LGBT rights campaigners
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British Muslim school children suffering a backlash of abuse following Paris attacks
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
£21000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Located on the stunning Sandban...
£26 - 35k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Email Marketing Specialist is needed to join...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity to join a is a...
Unpaid voluntary work: Old Royal Naval College: Join our team of friendly volu...