virtual reality on an airplane

Virtual Flights: First Airlines, Now Boarding

29 September 2020
Read Time: 2.9 mins

Are you missing the excitement of flying? Setting 12 alarms for those morning flights,  checking for updates 28 times the night before, and forward planning your entire in-flight viewing itinerary? The adrenaline rush when the flight takes off and of course the anticipation of the inflight meals, all laid out in adorable mini packets. (Tell me that’s not just us?!)

First Airlines Virtual Flights

Well, if this is you, and you happen to reside in Tokyo, you’re in luck. Japanese-based carrier First Airlines has recently launched “virtual vacations”, a novel way for travel-starved customers to take a trip to an international location. For roughly $85 AUD (or $78 for business class) passengers can enjoy a two-hour first-class flight experience, complete with preflight safety demonstrations, cabin crew hospitality, pilot announcements and meals, without the hassle of luggage, visas, or jet lag. 

First Airlines Virtual Flights

Describing itself as the world’s first virtual airline, First Airlines has recreated the first class cabin of an A310, including genuine plane seats from a retired aircraft. It’s been set up in ‘Ikebukuro International Airport' which is essentially an office space in Ikebukuro, a city centre in Tokyo, where the journey begins. 

First Airlines Virtual Flights

After boarding through a check-in gate, passengers are ushered and seated by flight attendants, before they experience a very realistic ‘takeoff’ through the use of audio and visual effects. Within minutes, they’re well and truly making headway, passing through virtual clouds on a ‘flight’ to a city of their choice. 

First Airlines Virtual Flights Paris

Whether it’s New York, Rome, Helsinki or Paris on the itinerary, passengers will receive a multi-course meal specifically designed around their chosen destination. Those heading for France can enjoy smoked salmon and foie gras, it’s roast pork followed by tiramisu for those who are Italy-bound, while travelers headed to Hawaii are served up seafood. Guests dine with real crockery and cutlery like any real business class flight. 

First Airlines Virtual Flights Paris

Prior to ‘landing’, passengers receive VR goggles to adorn for the last 10 minutes of the experience, transporting them to their chosen location. They could be walking the streets of Paris, admiring the palace of Versailles and getting a 360-degree view of the Eiffel Tower (other tourists included to make it all the more realistic). 

While you won't be heading home with a stamp in your passport or having physically set foot in the real destination, it’s not a bad way to scratch that travel itch, at least for the time being.

Image credit: First Airlines & Getty


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Jess Holmes

Jess Holmes refers to herself as a walking contradiction, yearning for life's little (or large) luxuries one minute, eat-drink-treking her way through offbeat destinations another.  She's just as happy exploring the street(food)s of Oaxaca, putting her body through its paces atop Peruvian mountains, and sunning herself on Sri Lanka's secluded beaches as she is wandering through Napa Valley vineyards, indulging in NYC's best spa treatments or sipping Chianti on the Amalfi Coast.