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Wednesday 12 August 2020

Antarctica ahoy! How about a day trip to nowhere?

In these days of extreme travel restrictions Australians deprived of overseas travel will be finally able to leave the country in November - and they won't even need a passport.

They will not be landing anywhere, however, merely taking a day trip in a Boeing 787 Dreamliner over Antarctica on a chartered Qantas plane.

Antarctica Flights and Qantas have unveiled plans to reinstate charter flights from Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth over the frozen continent, even while other travel restrictions are in place.

The flights, which will take about 12 hours round-trip, will be classed as domestic journeys so passengers won't need documentation.

As a regular flyer I must say the whole idea leaves me nonplussed.

Even from a window seat on a plane it is hard to get a decent view, let alone a middle seat or an aisle.

Qantas says it has that issue covered. Every premium passenger will get two boarding passes, one for a window seat and one for an aisle and will switch halfway through the flight to make sure everyone gets a good view.

Imagine trying to enforce that switchover when passengers are well lubricated and want full value for their money.

The flights will cross the South Magnetic Pole.

"There is no passport or luggage needed for an Antarctica flight, you can even go in board shorts if you wish," Antarctica Flights CEO Bas Bosschieter told local media.

"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'."

The flights will have Antarctic expeditioners onboard to give passengers a first-hand account of the Antarctica ecosystem accompanied with video screenings.

"We glide effortlessly over mountainous peaks, ice sheets, glaciers and incredible polar landscapes for about four hours," Bosschieter said.

"While 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."

Prices start at $1,199 per person for an economy seat over the wing, with business class deluxe seats fetching $7,999. That's a lot of cash to go nowhere - but you will almost certainly spot some icebergs. 

It is over 40 years since Air New Zealand Flight 901 flew into Mount Erebus on Ross Island, Antarctica, killing all 237 passengers and 20 crew on board. 


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