Emirates NFT plans: How does Qantas compare?

Posted: 19 April 2022 12:44 pm

The airline promises "utility-based NFTs", but we need to know a lot more.

Emirates is the latest airline to jump on the NFT bandwagon, announcing that it "will soon launch NFTs and exciting experiences in the metaverse for its customers and employees".

Its announcement comes just over a month after its Australian partner airline Qantas outlined its own NFT strategy, set for launch sometime this year.

Rather like Qantas' NFT plans, there's not a lot of detail yet about the Emirates NFT project so it's hard to get excited about it.

We're promised that "both collectible and utility-based NFTs" will be released by the airline "in the coming months".

A generous interpretation of "utility-based NFTs" would be that, like Qantas, you'll be able to earn points when you purchase those NFTs. Being able to pay for reward flights using the underlying token might also be an option.

But with no concrete details announced, we can't be sure.

Emirates also says it plans to convert its Emirates Pavillion at the Expo 2020 site in Dubai into "a centre for innovation, bringing talent from all over the globe to bring to life the airline's future-focused projects including those relating to the metaverse, NFTs and Web3".

What does that actually mean for customers? Again, we don't know yet.

NFTs are just a form of technology. They can be used for sharing collectibles. They can be used as a (very) speculative form of investment. Or they can be used for hype. Right now, the airline announcements mostly sound like hype.

For me, the most telling quote in the Emirates announcement comes right at the end: "At the Emirates Pavilion during Expo 2020 Dubai, the most popular attraction amongst the 'future of commercial aviation' themed experiences was the VR [virtual reality] journey showcasing future aircraft cabin interiors."

It's no shock that frequent flyers are interested in how cabins and lounges will look in the future.

Virtual reality might be a nifty way of delivering that, but it remains the medium, not the message. It's the actual travel experience that really matters.

Flying in Emirates First is still very much on my bucket list for future flight experiences.

But right now I can't imagine that NFTs are going to be the way I make that happen. We'll see for sure when more detail emerges.

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Angus Kidman's Findings column looks at new developments and research that help you save money, make wise decisions and enjoy your life more.

Picture: Emirates

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