VR, AI, travel, airline, tourism, flight, First Airlines, Japan, Paris, technology, tour, sightseeing

Boarding now: A flight that never takes off

First Airlines offers first-class service, inflight meals and sightseeing in far-flung cities – all with VR.

First-class service with smartly dressed flight attendants, an extensive inflight dinner, landing in a romantic destination to see the sights – this is what First Airlines is offering every customer. But the flight doesn’t even leave the ground.

As soon as the passengers are sitting comfortably, the uniformed cabin crew help guests to put on virtual reality goggles for a fully immersive “travel” experience.

At the first-class virtual airline entertainment facility in Tokyo, the passengers have paid for a flight departing to Paris, but they don’t even leave the room until the experience is over.

Twelve First Airlines passengers at a time relax in first-class and business-class seats and are served four-course meals before landing in the French capital and embarking on 360-degree VR tours of the city’s sights.

“A real trip is a hassle to prepare for, and expensive, and takes time. So I think it is good that we can enjoy all this hassle-free,” Takashi Sakano, 39, told the news agency Reuters, adding that next time he wants to “travel” to Rome.

Cheap trips
For 6,600 yen (€50) – far less than an actual airline ticket – First Airlines provides two-hour flights to Paris, Rome, Hawaii and New York. Seats have been fully booked since the company opened in 2016. Domestic flights around Japan will be added soon, with meals highlighting the regions’ cuisine.

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

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