Review – Airplane Mode

We all love traveling. We all love the excitement of going to a new country, to discover new places, cultures and landmarks. What we don’t like is the act of being stuck inside an airplane for hours on end. Having to deal with crying babies, cramped seating spaces, excessively dry air, terrible food, and the feeling that time simply doesn’t pass. If you’re one of the very few people in the world who actually likes this experience and are missing the feeling of seating in economy class due to the COVID-19 pandemic, well I’ve got a game for you. Airplane Mode is TV channel AMC’s first foray into game publishing, offering the exciting prospect of not doing anything for six straight hours.

Airplane Mode

They didn’t even include Snake or an emulator in your phone’s memory…

This is a game that defies the conventions of genre-labeling. At first, I thought Airplane Mode was going to be one of those poorly-made, asset flip-esque “simulators” like House Flipper. However, while there are some similarities, especially regarding the underwhelming graphics, I can’t exactly call Airplane Mode “poorly made”. There is some degree of care put into it. The issue lies on the fact that it delivers on its promise way too accurately. It’s as god damn boring as any long-haul flight in economy class.

You can choose between two different flight experiences: a two-hour flight from New York to Halifax, or a six-hour flight from NY to Reykjavik, Iceland. The “gameplay” is similar in both cases: keep seated and waste your time as if you were trying to waste your time in a real-life long haul flight.

Airplane Mode

I always ask for an aisle seat.

Before you’re actually able to do the things you’re supposed to do in order to entertain yourself in a flight, you’re forced to fasten your seatbelts, check your luggage under the seat in front of you, and watch a live action recording of your standard airline security video. Flight attendants will even reprimand you if you don’t fasten your seatbelt during takeoff. Finally, the plane’s pilot, an Aussie, will constantly talk to his crew and guests in the same “uh, err” manner you would expect from a real-life flight. Accurate? Yes. Fun? Not so much.

The moment the plane reaches an adequate altitude, you’re then “tasked” with wasting your time until the end of the flight. If anything, the developers did try to include as many “features” one could expect from your standard in-flight entertainment system, but just as in real life, it’s all too boring. You have your standard selection of poorly-made casino games like Blackjack and Sollitaire. You can watch some really old movies, such as Georges Méliès’ Le Voyage dans la Lune, as well as one Looney Tunes short from 1941, back when they were still called Merrie Melodies. One would have expected for AMC to include some of their hit shows, such as Breaking Bad, but I guess that was too much to ask for.

Airplane Mode

Hey buddy, say cheese!

You can also interact with your cellphone, so long as you put it in airplane mode. You can listen to some bland, Starbucks Coffee-esque indie music playlists, select from a few podcasts, and also take some pictures with your phone’s camera. Finally, you can play a round of sudoku at the end of the magazine located in front of your seat. You can also read it, if that’s what you really want to do. You’ve got six hours of nothing to do, so might as well waste your time with everything you can…

What I ended up doing afterwards, in order to make time go by faster, was the same thing I do whenever I travel by plane to another country: I just picked up another portable video game and played something else. I left the PC running Airplane Mode, with literally nothing happening onscreen, while I was playing Pokémon Sword‘s brand new DLC expansion. For some reason, I really wanted to see what would happen upon completing the six hour flight. Maybe there was some plot twist? Some big surprise? Nope, the game ended as one would have expected. “Thank you for flying with us” and all that gibberish…

AMC should have included an entire season of Breaking Bad in order to make this flight less boring.

I truly question Airplane Mode‘s existence, but I have to praise its developers for being upfront and honest with it. It’s incredibly boring, but so is being stuck inside an airplane for six hours in real life. This game can be called lots of things, such as a waste of time and an act of hubris, but it’s definitely not false advertising. This is a very accurate portrayal of what you can (and cannot) do while traveling in economy class, for better or for worse. I still cannot recommend to anyone, besides the half a dozen weirdos out there who really, really, desperately miss the feeling of being inside an airplane due to the current COVID-19 pandemic.


Graphics: 5.0

A very detailed rendition of the inside of an airplane, with some live action videos displayed on the monitor in front of you. There are also some really hideous character models sitting next to you.

Gameplay: 4.0

You can interact with a lot of buttons and objects in front of you, with little depth. You can also play some games in the monitor in front of you.

Sound: 6.5

The game sounds like what you would expect: compressed audio whenever you’re watching anything on the entertainment monitor, a pilot definitely not wanting to talk to you, but still being forced to do so, and an occasional rant from a flight attendant. Boring, but accurate.

Fun Factor: 3.0

An excruciatingly boring experience, but one that is also very accurate. It features everything you would expect from a long and boring flight, from silly safety videos to a bland game of sudoku featured in the back of the plane’s magazine.

Final Verdict: 4.0

Airplane Mode is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of Airplane Mode was provided by the publisher.