19 Aug 2020: Unable to fly, travelers hop on flights to reach nowhere
With the coronavirus pandemic putting brakes on flying worldwide, frequent fliers are trying different styles to satisfy their "wanderlusts."
First Airlines, which is assisting this experience in Tokyo, is reaping profits through its unusual idea.
Tokyo: Welcome aboard the world's first virtual aviation facility
First Airlines, which prides itself as the "World's First Virtual Aviation Facility," aims to give passengers a complete flying experience. In this quest, it has built its aircraft just like the real one.
Passengers get "boarding passes," there's an airport, and flight attendants make in-flight announcements as well.
As per Washington Post, each ticket costs $62( over 6,000 Yen or Rs. 4,640 approximately).
Details: VR headsets fuels "virtual" flying for a satisfying experience
Upon boarding the 'flight', each passenger is given a VR headset which takes them on a virtual tour of countries and cities such as New York, London, New Zealand, Helsinki, etc.
There's also a curated onboard menu to choose from.
Every listed destination has its own menu card; for example, New York's "travelers" get clam chowder and cheesecake while Hawaii's get poke.
Fact: A passenger said the experience was real and fulfilling
"I often go overseas on business, but I haven't been to Italy. My impression was rather good because I got a sense of actually seeing things there," a local businessman who boarded the mock flight in Tokyo told Reuters.
EVA Air: Separately, Taiwan's EVA Air is also scoring big
While the Tokyo company gives passengers a virtual trip, EVA Air, a Taiwanese company, satisfies their travel cravings by taking them nowhere.
This Father's Day, EVA Air's Sanrio-themed aircraft took passengers to witness the Taiwanese coastline and Japan's Ryukyu Islands.
The flight didn't land anywhere, just hovered over the "destinations," before returning to the Taoyuan Airport it took off from.
The experience cost $180 (approximately Rs. 13,470).
Conclusion: Virtual reality brings joy in the time of pandemic
Notably, First Airlines started its virtual reality flights in 2017. And after the pandemic, bookings have gone up by 50%, the WaPo report added.
EVA Air, on the other hand, is yet to confirm when or whether it will serve another flight like the one on August 8, but hopes are high since the pandemic effect on Taiwan has been comparatively lower.