A Japanese virtual reality company is offering “mock flights” which let passengers sit in fake airline cabins while being served in-flight meals and drinks.
First Airlines has seen an increase of interest since the start of the pandemic as more holidaymakers are grounded due to coronavirus travel restrictions.
The two-hour virtual reality experience enables passengers to “travel” to cities such as Paris and New York without actually ever taking off.
As millions of people are staying at home, there’s a growing interest in the mock flight trend.
A Japanese virtual reality company allows people to enjoy all the perks of flying on a plane — without ever taking off.
For only 6,580 yen ($62) per ticket, Tokyo entertainment company First Airlines offers “mock flights,” which let passengers sit in fake airline cabins while being served in-flight meals and drinks.
The two-hour virtual reality experience comes complete with a comfortable first-class seat, four-course meal, and even window TV screens that replicate different outside views.
Passengers are also issued a “boarding pass” and are required to “check-in” and flight attendants carry out safety protocols.
First Airlines jets its passengers to long-haul “destinations,” including Paris, New Zealand, Rome, New York, California, Helsinki, and Hawaii.
But since they’re not physically arriving in these places, passengers are instead given VR headsets, which provide them on-ground tours and experiences as if they were there.
“I often go overseas on business, but I haven’t been to Italy,” one local businessman who tried the experience, told Reuters.
“My impression was rather good because I got a sense of actually seeing things there,” he added.
The company even customizes the meals it serves, depending on the “flight” destination.
On the flight to Rome, passengers enjoy a menu consisting of classic dishes like tiramisu and minestrone soup. The New York menu includes Manhattan clam chowder and cheesecake.
First Airlines was founded in 2017 but is only really taking off now, as millions are grounded due to coronavirus restrictions.
According to its president, Hiroaki Abe, bookings are up about 50% since the pandemic began.
“We get some customers who normally travel to Hawaii every year and they can experience some of that here,” Abe said, according to Reuters.
More companies are embracing the “mock flight” trend
First Airlines in Japan is not the only company coming up with quirky ideas to keep “travelers” entertained.
Australian airline Qantas announced earlier this month that it will be running sightseeing flights over Antarctica. In a 12-hour long journey, passengers will get to fly over the icy expanse of the continent, before landing back where they took off.
The flights, operated by tour company Antarctica Flights, are considered domestic because passengers technically don’t leave the country since they never disembark the plane.
“There is no passport or luggage needed for an Antarctica Flight, you can even go in board shorts if you wish,” Antarctica Flights CEO Bas Bosschieter told 7News Australia.
“I personally think it’s the best answer to the question ‘What did you get up to on the weekend? Just popped down to Antarctica,'” Bosschieter added.
Meanwhile, Taiwanese carrier EVA Air is also offering a sightseeing flight over Taiwan’s coastline — although it will only be three hours long and is Hello Kitty-themed.
For $180 per person, the flight will circle of Taiwan’s coastline, continue on to Japan’s Ryukyu Islands, before returning to the same air hub it departed from.
As they fly, the passengers will be able to “overlook the magnificent scenery of Taiwan’s east coastline” while sitting in Hello Kitty-themed chairs and being served Hello Kitty-shaped food, according to The Washington Post.
“The onboard meal [was] a selection of seafood chirashi-sushi rice designed by Michelin-starred chef Motoke Nakamura,” EVA Air said in a news release.
Going on a “mock flight” is not an option for some people, which is why they’ve been taking to social media to recreate the flight experience at home instead.
People on social media have been recreating their travel or flight experiences from their homes, using nothing more than everyday household items like toilet seats, treadmills, and their washing machine.
One Dutch TikTok user, Jeroen Gortworst, went viral after he recreated an airplane experience in his laundry room in Rotterdam, Netherlands.
“We got so many messages like, ‘Thanks for making my day. These are pretty sad times and this is what we need right now,'” Gortworst previously told Insider. “We got all sorts of messages and all of them were positive.”
The airline industry has been one of the worst-affected sectors in the coronavirus pandemic. It is set to lose $84 billion this year alone, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) said in June.
The road to recovery will not be as smooth for the industry as many had hoped. According to IATA, which represents most of the world’s major airlines, the industry will not bounce back until 2024.
Read the original article on Business Insider