Photos: Antarctica Flights
On a scale of 1 to Ghislaine Maxwell, how desperate are you to jump on a jet and leg it to the other side of the world?
You’ve already clicked into this post, so I’ll assume very, and proceed to tell you about a new service from Qantas arriving this November. The airline is partnering up with touring company Antarctica Flights to send Australian residents to Antarctica, but there’s a catch… you’re not actually allowed off the plane.
The flights—departing from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and Brisbane—will take passengers on a scenic trip over Antarctica that will last up to 13 hours, with four of those hours spent directly over the icebergs and glaciers of the southernmost continent. The rest of the time you can watch Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs on your in-flight entertainment device and get boozed, or whatever tickles your fancy. You’ll then eventually touch back down in the city you departed from, making it a domestic flight (and no, you don’t need your passport).
Let’s start off with the positives. It’s likely we’re going to be stuck on this sunburnt country of ours for a while yet, so this could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for to scratch that overseas itch. Another pro is you’ll be riding on the Qantas Boeing 787, and according to Antarctica Flights’ website, the windows on the plane are ’65% larger than any other vessel of its size’ giving you ‘optimal views to the vast white wilderness.’ They’ll also be adhering to social distancing regulations, which means no fighting for elbow space on the armrest while trying to spot seals. Each flight will also have an expert Antarctic expeditioner onboard to teach you some stuff while you sightsee; kinda like Frozen Planet in real-time. It might not be equal to a jaunt around Europe for the summer, but if you’ve always wanted to see Antarctica and don’t have the big bucks on hand to pay for a cruise, this could be a cheaper way to see it.
Aside from the obvious downside of not actually being able to set foot on the continent, there’s some other stuff you should know before spending your JobSeeker on a flight to nowhere. An economy seat is going to set you back around $1199 per person, and if you want to ride in style up with the posh people in business it’s going to cost you… fkn heaps. There’s also the obvious irony of taking a petrol-guzzling long-haul flight to go look at an under-threat environment. Antarctica Flights say on the website that every flight will be carbon neutral which is great, but the concept of offsetting carbon has come under fire in recent times for being counter-productive.
Some more fine print: because you’ll be cruising at 10,000 feet, you won’t be able to see Antarctic wildlife in detail (bummer). Another thing to note is that most of the tickets require you to swap seats halfway through the journey, meaning you’ll get the window seat for half the flight, and an adjacent aisle seat for the other half.
So, there you have it. Flights to Antarctica, setting sail from Australian cities in November. If you want to find out more, go check out Antarctic Flights, and definitely go have a look at Monster Children‘s guide to Antarctica by photojournalist Sam Edmonds, who’s put his boots on the ground there over 17 times.