Comfy seats, a four course meal, and a VR show? We guarantee this will be an experience you’ll never forget.

For those who’ve had the privilege of traveling, whether cross-country, continental, or overseas, you’ll know that flying in an airplane is an experience in itself. For some, it means the comfortable seats, free drinks, and attentive service of first class. For most of us, it means walking past those rich folks in first class to get to our sardine-packed, noisy economy class section.

For those who fit in the latter category, and who dream of one day being able to afford a several-thousand dollar plane ticket, First Airlines, a virtual reality restaurant in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, is made for you. Seats that recline all the way, leg rests, free drinks and delicious food? Ahh, that’s the life.

▼ Handsome flight attendants are a bonus, too.

We’d always wondered what first class might be like, so we decided to try out First Airlines as our closest option. They offer several choices for themed dinners, but we chose to book a ticket for the Time Travel Flight. We can’t really compare our experience with First Airlines to an actual first-class flight, since we’ve never been on one, but we can assure you that eating there is exactly like what we think flying first class would be like: luxurious, comfortable, and fun.

First Airlines is very committed to the theme: upon arrival at the restaurant, we wondered if it was, indeed, a restaurant. It actually looked a lot like an airport; there’s a check-in desk and a flight information board, and even the background music matched the feel of the room. Clearly, right from the get-go the intention is to make you feel like you’re boarding a flight.

At the front desk, we were greeted by a lovely pair of flight attendants, who checked us in. We received a boarding pass and a special passport, which doubles as a stamp card for your travel “visas”; a nice souvenir for your experience. After checking in, we were escorted to our plane and shown to our seats.

There were 12 roomy seats in our first class plane, and apparently each one was a real seat used in the first class sections of A310 and A340 series Airbus planes. The interior of the room was designed to look like an airplane; it was so realistic, we had to keep reminding ourselves that it was actually a restaurant..

Barely able to contain our excitement, we tested out the luxurious recliners. As expected, they were very comfortable. We could recline the seats to a complete 180 degrees! The wide space between the seats also afforded plenty of leg room. We straightened our legs, and they didn’t even touch the seats in front of us. What a joy!

Once we were all seated, it was time for the VR portion of our “trip” to begin. Our excitement began to bubble up. How would they simulate the actual flight part of the experience? It started with an explanation of cabin safety by the flight attendant that exactly mirrored one of a real airplane. They even showed us how to use the oxygen masks and life jackets! After a few more cabin announcements, the plane was ready to “take off.”

It was seriously like riding an airplane. As the “plane” geared up for take-off, the seats and the floor vibrated and moved, so we had to keep our seatbelts firmly fastened until the light was switched off. In front of us was a screen with a view out of the windshield of an airplane, where we could watch the runway rush underneath us as the plane zoomed forward.

Once we were safely in the air, we put on our VR Goggles, and our time travel experience began. On our flight, we toured some famous points in history, like the ancient Greek city of Ephesus, the building of Angkor Wat in the twelfth century, and the destruction of the Berlin Wall in 1989. With videos and impressive sounds, it was an intensely realistic experience. The VR Goggles allowed for a full 360-degree view of everything, so it really felt like we were witnessing the events of the past in person.

After a fantastic 20-minute show, it was time for dinner. First, the flight attendant brought out a fully loaded drink cart and passed down the aisles offering draft beer, wine, and soft drinks. The first drink was free, and any drinks after that were an additional charge. We ordered a Cassis liqueur with orange juice. Fruity and tasty!

Just like on a regular plane, the meal is different depending on the flight you take. On our time travel flight, we were able to sample a four-course meal inspired by history that was created with the help with historical food enthusiast Masashi Endo.

The first course was a Renaissance-era dish that was supposedly a favorite of Leonardo Da Vinci: a hot salad with figs. What followed that was a Mesopotamian stew of ancient grains and lamb, and for our main course: a nineteenth century German spare rib roast. The stew and salad, with their abundant use of spices, had deliciously Middle Eastern flavors, and the pork spare rib was tender enough to melt in your mouth.

And let’s not forget dessert: Gugelhupf, a sweet and fruity cake from West-Central Europe that was supposedly eaten about once a week by the last Queen of France, Marie Antoinette. It was delicious.

Once dinner was finished, we were given the chance to revisit some of the spots on our trip with a tablet, if we wished to learn more about them.

You’re probably wondering, “Is such an extravagant experience really cheaper than actually flying class?” Why yes, yes it is. For a four course meal, a virtual reality show, and a complete experience that lasted a total of two hours, we paid only 6,600 or 6,200 yen per seat (US$59.50 or $55.90). The price is different depending on which seat you get, but for the meal alone, it’s well worth it.

There are other flights as well as the time-travel one, too; diners can also choose a flight to Hawaii, New York, Paris, or Rome. Starting this month, you can even take a flight to Finland! In the name of journalism, we also tried that one out. It was fun because it takes you to the Moomin Cafe, which is originally from Finland, and to scenes from the Japanese movie Kamome Cafe, which took place in Helsinki. The aurora borealis was beautiful too!

First Airlines is definitely a one-of-a-kind experience. Travelers and those who want to travel will love the experience, and it’s a great place to bring friends and dates for a fun dinner. Why not make this another stop on your list of must-visit themed restaurants, like the Ninja Labyrinth Restaurant? Videos and explanations are in Japanese only, so bring along a Japanese-speaking friend if you want to try it out. Reservations are required, so check the website in advance!

Restaurant information
Address: Tokyo-to, Toshima-ku, Nishi Ikebukuro 3-31-5 Parkheim West Building 8F
東京都豊島区西池袋3丁目31−5 パークハイムウエストビル8F
Open: Mon-Fri 5:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.; Sat, Sun, & Holidays 12:30 p.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Reservations only

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