As any luxury travel operator will tell you, an increasing number of travelers are seeking out ways to visit Antarctica—but, as they will also note, that prospect is often easier said than done, given the logistics, regulations, and seasonal limitations involved with venturing to the remote continent. Enter Antarctica Flights and its ingenious alternative for those who want to see the dramatic, icy landscapes minus the hassles: Scenic day trip flights down to Antarctica departing from five major Australian cities.
Based in Australia, Antarctica Flights privately charters a Qantas 747 to takes passengers on this 12-hour journey to view the glacial continent. Branded as “the world’s most unique day tour,” the flight takes off from Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, Brisbane and Perth between November and February, when passengers can best view the continent from above. (Note that the final flight of 2019/2020 season, which will depart from Melbourne on February 16th, has not been affected by the wildfires.)
Passengers can book seats in one of seven different levels, from Economy Class Centre (middle seats that don’t rotate) to the highest Ice Class (fully-flat aisle or window sleeper seats that rotate halfway through the flight to optimize views.) Wherever you’re sitting, on your way down to the Great White Continent you won’t be watching the latest action movie; instead, on-board Antarctic experts will lead talks about the continent, the environment, its history and research centers you may see from above. They’ll also stream documentary video of what it’s like on the ground, including spotlighting wildlife like waddling gentoo penguins and giant elephant seals. “Happy Feet” is another crowd-pleasing viewing option.
About three hours after departing Australia, passengers will start to see bright white icebergs floating in the sapphire waters, followed by striking views of Antarctica’s towering mountain ranges as the plane crosses over the South Magnetic Pole. The 747 will then fly over the Antarctica Treaty area and continent for around four hours, following on a route chosen in advance from 19 different flight paths based on the best current conditions.
The goal of the pilots is to give passengers the best views on both sides of the aircraft, showcase the most diverse amount of scenery possible and stay over the continent for as long as they can. Once the flight reaches Antarctica, passengers are free to stand up, mingle and look out whichever window has the best view of the blanket of white below. Two meal services, as well as snacks and drinks from the full-service bar, round out the experience. Prices start at $4,299 per person for Business Class; find more info here.