‘A real trip is a hassle’: Japan firm taking wishful travellers on virtual reality first class flights to Paris

Passengers are served a four-course meal while attendants look after their every need

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 February, 2018, 4:50pm
UPDATED : Friday, 16 February, 2018, 4:51pm

Fasten your seat belts for a flight departing to Paris, and never leave the ground.

That is exactly what 12 passengers did at First Airlines in central Tokyo this week, where they relaxed in first and business-class seats and were served four-course dinners, before immersing themselves in 360-degree virtual reality (VR) tours of the City of Light’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”, said Takashi Sakano, 39, who was on his first VR trip, adding that he wanted to ‘travel’ to Rome next time.

At 6,600 yen (US$62), a fraction of the cost of an actual trip overseas, it’s easy to see why First Airline’s two-hour ’flights’ to Paris, Rome, Hawaii and New York have been fully booked since the company opened in 2016.

“We have lots of elderly customers, who want to go overseas but are not able to easily, given their physical limitations,” said First Airlines manager Hiroaki Abe, adding that most the operator’s visitors are older Japanese people.

Abe added that domestic flights around Japan will be added soon, with meals highlighting the region’s cuisine.