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People In Japan Are Boarding Fake Planes To Cure Their Closed Border Blues

People In Japan Are Boarding Fake Planes To Cure Their Closed Border Blues

Japan has always been ahead of the curve when it comes to both quirk and technology, so it should come as no surprise that boarding fake planes to take virtual trips overseas has become all the rage since the pandemic hit.

When it comes to the virtual realm, we’ve pushed ourselves beyond our usual comforts this year. For some, it was (and still is) having Zoom meetings, for others, it was online dance parties or fitness classes. For our mates in Japan, it’s boarding a fake plane for a fully immersive VR trip to Europe, the USA, New Zealand or Scandinavia.

Based in Tokyo, virtual carrier First Airlines is offering people a reprieve from cancelled overseas holidays, without having to leave the city.

Passengers can book either Business class, which will set them back roughly $80 (¥5,980), or First Class, about $87 (¥6,580) – chump change considering the mock cabins use seats from actual First Class on the Airbus 310 340. This might be the only chance for many people to afford First Class.

The whole ethos is around creating as realistic a flying experience as possible.

After booking online, passengers make their way to ‘Ikebukuro International Airport’ (essentially an office space in a building in Ikebukuro) on the day of departure to begin the check in and boarding procedure.

 

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They then take their seat in the Business or First Class cabin and listen to the safety demonstration from a full crew — said to be either ex-First Class crews or those training to be — as you look out the window and watch the flight take off.

In the “air”, passengers are served Chef-prepared meals from the destination city they’re headed to, with other in-flight norms like announcements and sales. Meanwhile, flat panel screens display aircraft exterior views including passing clouds.

 

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There’s also a realistic landing sequence, followed by the VR immersion at the vacay location. The whole trip takes two hours.

Current destinations include Rome, Paris, Helsinki, California, Hawaii, New York, New Zealand and Japan (for regional travel). There is also a Timetravel option, but that’s as much as I can tell you as the English translate function isn’t working on that page.

Since Corona virus has stopped most travel from Japan, ANA (Japan’s largest airline) says international flight numbers have dropped by 96 percent in June, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile, First Airlines, which has been around since late 2016, is enjoying a spike in bookings, up about 50 percent since the pandemic began, according to the company.

With their aim to create that certain kind of buzz you get from flying, it’s a pretty fun solution to people’s travel woes.

I mean, it sounds worlds better than what TikTok’s come up with.

(Lead Image: Instagram / @first_airlines)

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