Scenic flights to Antarctica on Qantas’ 787 Dreamliners courtesy of Antarctica Flights are being offered from five Australian cities.
Flights over the frozen continent beginning in November is expected to be popular with Australians, as border closures and travel restrictions plague the travel industry.
The 12-hour long flights will be operated from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth overflying Antarctica without touching down.
The flights will essentially run under the conditions of domestic services, which include social distancing measures.
The proposed flight route takes in the McMurdo dry valleys, rugged mountains and the magnetic South Pole, with ice coming into view just 3 hours from takeoff.
According to media reports, Antarctica Flights’ CEO Bas Bosschieter said “There is no passport or luggage needed for an Antarctica Flight, you can even go in board shorts if you wish. It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Antarctica in a day.”
“I personally think it’s the best answer to the question ‘What did you get up to on the weekend? Just popped down to Antarctica’,” Bosschieter added.
Antarctica Flights has operated private charter flights over the continent going back 26 years, but this will be the first time the company has been able to charter the Dreamliner from Qantas’ fleet.
Prices start from AUD$1200 (USD$860) with a premium “Ice Class” fare costing as much as AUD$8000 (USD$5730).
Extra safety measures will be in place this year, with passengers required to take temperature tests prior to departure. Qantas PPE kits, including face masks, will also be provided.
“Whilst it is very difficult for Australians to travel overseas at this time, our Antarctica Flights guests will be able to “visit” another continent in a day,” said Bosschieter.
On November 28, 1979 a New Zealander DC-10 on a sightseeing flight over Antarctica crashed into Mount Erebus killing all 257 people on board. The pilot was supposed to stay above 6,000 feet at all times, but went down to 1,500 feet due to the overcast skies.
There will be seven flights between November and February when the continent boasts the best weather.