Grounded: board the flight that never takes off

Staff dressed as flight attendants, help guests to wear virtual reality (VR) goggles at the "First Airlines", virtual first-class airline experience facility in Tokyo, Japan February 14, 2018. Photo: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

TOKYO – Fasten your seatbelts for a flight departing to Paris, and never leave the ground.

That's 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 (R720), 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", manager of First Airlines Hiroaki Abe said, explaining that the majority of First Airlines' visitors are older Japanese from around the country.

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

FILE: A guest eats first-class meal at the "First Airlines", virtual first-class airline experience facility in Tokyo, Japan February 14, 2018. CREDIT: REUTERS/Toru Hanai

Reuters

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