Good airline food without fees, delays, or leaving the ground
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Credit: Shui Ta Shan/Getty Images

What’s the deal with airline food? It hardly seems like you can get a decent meal on planes these days. Even when you do, tucking into a prepackaged, microwaved meal while fighting with your seatmates over those middle armrests hardly seems like the kind of experience that one would want to willingly recreate while on the ground.

And yet, that’s exactly what Tokyo restaurant First Airlines, the plane-themed dining experience that probably no one asked for, is all about. Using virtual reality, the restaurant offers patrons the chance to take virtual “trips” to places like Paris, Rome, New York, and Hawaii, all without leaving the ground.

After buying “tickets” online (at least you don’t have to pay any bag fees), guests then seat themselves into Airbus 310 and 340 seats in either first or “business” class seating. After an actual safety demonstration (in case the restaurant gets swallowed by a sinkhole maybe?), patrons strap on headsets and “travel” to their pre-selected destination, enjoying regional cuisine served by former members of a real first class cabin crew. One can enjoy Manhattan clam chowder and steak en route to New York, for example, or salmon carpaccio while looking down on a digital approximation of the ancient Roman colosseum.

With prices between 4,980 (~$46) to 5,980 yen (~$55) for a two hour virtual reality tour and what figures to be some decent food, First Airlines customers can experience the best parts of dining and air travel without the difficulties one actually encounters when going halfway across the world. “A real trip is a hassle to prepare for, and expensive, and takes time,” First Airlines faux passenger Takashi Sakano told the Japan Times, “so I think it is good that we can enjoy all this hassle-free.”

Obviously it’s a bit farcical to think that eating in a faux airline cabin while wearing an Oculus headset really counts as “travel”, but the fact that First Airlines has sold out every “flight” since its 2016 opening suggests that the concept is a hit. So if you’re sick of the usual airline food, getting on a real flight to Tokyo so you can eat on a fake flight over there seems like just the ticket.