International travel is expensive, and can be a hassle, even more so if you suffer from a disability. First Airlines in Tokyo has turned to virtual reality (VR) to give customers the benefits of travel without the drawbacks.
Twelve passengers relaxed in first class or business class seats and were server four-course dinners before donning VR headsets to take a 360-degree tour of the sights of Paris.
“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, a First Airlines customer taking his first virtual trip. He says he is looking forward to another virtual trip, and hopes to try Rome next.
The two hour ‘flights’ offered by First Airlines allows customers to virtually visit locations such as Rome, Hawaii and New York. Since the company began offering the virtual flights, they have been consistently fully booked. Considering that these virtual flights cost a fraction of the price of an actual trip abroad, at only 6,600 yen, or $62 (USD), its not hard to see why they have boomed in popularity.
“We have lots of elderly customers, who want to go overseas but are not able to easily, given their physical limitations”, said a spokesperson for First Airlines, who noted that the majority of First Airlines customers for the virtual flights are older Japanese people.
The First Airlines spokesperson also added that there are plans to add domestic virtual flights to its available trips, allowing customers to take virtual tours of different areas of Japan and sample meals that highlight the local cuisine.
Other airlines have been experimenting with VR and augmented reality (AR) as well, such as Dutch airline KLM offering a virtual ‘upgrade’ to customers or Airbus offering customers the chance to use AR to plan their trip in a double-decker A380 aircraft and test out the facilities on offer.
As always, VRFocus will be there to inform you on the latest news in the VR sector.