A Look At The Secret Flight That Takes You Around Antarctica

Last October we wrote about a 16-hour sightseeing flight over the North Pole and we recently wrote about the rise of transantarctic flights. Well if you haven’t heard of it yet, Antarctica Flights is an Australian travel company that operates one-day summertime sightseeing flights over Antarctica, and have been since 1994.

Antarctica
Cathedral Rocks, Antarctica Photo: Wikimedia Commons

This full-day adventure is aboard a chartered Qantas 747 and departs from one of four major Australian cities: Brisbane, Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne. This full-day Antarctic experience promises to show you the majestic and beautiful scenery of the world’s most southerly continent. During the flight you’ll stay warm, safe and comfortable on a widebody jet with premium cabin service.

While onboard, expert Antarctic expeditioners talk about the polar environment and its history while video is displayed that depicts life on the ground. Roughly three hours after departure, passengers will usually see the first scattered ice followed by dozens of icebergs and ice flows. Shortly after the plane will cross the South Magnetic Pole where the mountainous topography of the Antarctic mainland starts to appear. The website claims up to four hours of viewing is possible.

The in-flight experience

With this journey lasting over 12 hours, the flight includes “premium drinks, delicious meals and talks from Antarctic expeditioners – there is never a dull moment” the website claims.  It goes on to say:

Featured Video:

This will be unlike any flight you have ever been on and nothing can prepare you for the amazing sights you will see.

Other features of this flight include a take-home “Explorer Kit” with maps and statistics as well as an in-flight entertainment system.

Qantas 747
The Antarctic Flight takes place aboard a chartered Qantas 747. Photo: Flickr

Ready to book this trip? The cheapest ticket starts at $1,200 for two seats in the middle rows of Economy Class. At the other end, tickets go all the way up to $8,000 for “Ice Class” seats. In “Ice Class” you’ll get full length sleeper seats in the front cabin area of the plane. Other options at various price points include Premium Economy, Business Class, etc. These options center around seating comfort, location on the aircraft, and the ability to rotate.

The Antarctica Flights Cabin Plan
The Antarctica Flights Cabin Plan

Because the purpose of this flight is a getting view of Antarctica, you will pay more to rotate seats. Partway through the flight you will switch seats with your fellow passengers so that everyone (who pays for the option) will get a chance to sit at or close to a window.

What customers are saying

So what are customers saying about their experience? We took a look online for reviews of recent flyers. One wrote:

Food was awful, wine menu cheap quality, nothing to rave about…

but the same reviewer also said

Scenery was extraordinary, very special. DO IT!

In fact, most of the over 50 reviews on Tripadvisor were positive. 74% of travelers rated it as “Excellent”. Among the most common complaints included forgotten food service and an inadequate speaker system used for the Antarctica-expert presentation.

Even though you may be concerned about booking a non-rotating middle-section seat in Economy, one reviewer wrote:

No matter where your seat allocation, you could get up and view the terrain below from any window.

So what’s your opinion of this chartered flight package? Is it something that interests you or perhaps you’d rather spend more to see Antarctica by ship?

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