February 15, 2018 / 5:26 AM / 9 months ago

Boarding now for a flight from Tokyo to Paris that never takes off

TOKYO (Reuters) - 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 ($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”, 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.

Reporting by Kwiyeon Ha, Writing by Olivier Fabre and Karishma Singh, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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