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Traveling—But Not Really: Experience First-Class Travel With This Virtual Reality Airline

Traveling has become the world’s new obsession—going to a foreign country, seeing the sights, feeling the first-class experience. But what if you’ve just got no time to do that? It takes hours to get from one place to another, and more hours just having to pack, plan your trip, and go through the whole airport shenanigan. What if you’re suffering through a bad case of claustrophobia (fear of closed spaces) and aerophbobia (fear of being in a flying vehicle) and just couldn’t stomach a long plane ride?

What if you can travel without ever leaving the ground? First Airlines in Tokyo has the answer.

First Airlines offers “virtual flights” to Paris, Rome, Hawaii, and New York. Surprisingly, a lot of Japanese have taken a liking to what the virtual airline is doing since trips have already been fully booked since the company opened in 2016.

According to Hiroaki Abe, a representative of the company, "We have lots of elderly customers, who want to go overseas but are not able to easily, given their physical limitations.”

Basically, how it works is you enter a room that’s made to look like an airplane—airplane-looking seats, flight stewardess, airplane food, complete with the pre-flight safety demonstration—and you’re given the whole first-class flying experience. The passengers are served a luxurious four-course dinner by the “flight attendants” and are then fitted with virtual reality headgears to experience the sights of their preferred destination.

According to one passenger of the virtual trip, Takashi Sakano, a real trip was just “a hassle to prepare for, and expensive, and takes time.” It looks like he enjoyed the experience very much and said that he would like to “travel” to Rome next time. Speak about pushing the limits of travel!

Each “destination” costs 6,600 yen or $62. Because of the popularity of the service, they are even looking to expand their “destinations” to domestic sights around Japan, with food that showcase the region’s cuisine and specialties.

Check out Reuters’ short feature about what First Airlines offers below.