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Airplane Mode is Microsoft Flight Simulator for the rest of us

‘The most realistic flight sim ever created’

An in-flight meal with a croissant, peas, red velvet cake, crackers, and cup water Image: Bacronym/AMC Games
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Sure, Microsoft Flight Simulator is cool — but do you know how hard it is to fly an airplane? Even a virtual one? I do. Even with a flying lesson from Polygon’s flight sim expert Charlie Hall, I had not managed to land a plane without terrifying all passengers on board. (It’s probably not a great look for your captain — that’s me — to experience alarmingly disorienting motion sickness throughout the flight, either.)

For now I will continue piloting Microsoft Flight Simulator’s airplanes (Dramamine on-deck), but I will consider retiring when AMC Games’ Airplane Mode is released this fall on Windows PC and Mac.

Airplane Mode, which was announced by AMC in 2019, is described as “the most realistic flight simulation ever created.” And that sounds right. Microsoft Flight Simulator is pretty dang realistic, but only if I actually had the skills to fly an airplane. Where I really belong is in economy class, eating a horrifying plane meal and watching in-flight television. And that’s exactly what you’ll do in Airplane Mode, for an excruciatingly long flight across the Atlantic Ocean. (Specifically, we’ll be flying six hours from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport to the Reykjavik Airport, or on a shorter, two-hour flight from JFK to Nova Scotia’s Halifax Stanfield International Airport.)

There are snacks and a meal service. A carry-on bag to dig through to find your book and pen. A reading light. A safety video produced by IFC. Maybe a crying baby, awful Wi-Fi, or a crying baby — those are randomized, according to Airplane Mode’s Steam page.

Realistically, I’ll never have to decide at which angle to approach the airport runway. But whenever we’re able to fly again, I am likely to worry about whether or not the person behind me will hate me for reclining my seat. Ah, I miss flying.