Qantas Plans Boeing 787 Antarctica Sightseeing Flights

While Australians may be unable to travel internationally due to COVID-19, Qantas and travel firm Antarctica Flights have got together to offer possibly the world’s most unique scenic flight. Previously, Qantas used one of its iconic Boeing 747s for the 12 to 13-hour trip to Antarctica. Now that they are all retired, the journey will be made using a state-of-the-art Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

Qantas 787
The flight to Antarctica and back takes between 12 and 13 hours Photo: Getty Images

Starting from November, travelers will be able to take in the frozen continent, with departures leaving from Adelaide, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. What is extra special about the flight, besides the stunning views, is that you do not need a passport. As the 236 seat aircraft is taking off from and touching down in Australia, the trip is regarded as being a domestic flight.

Expert lectures give talks about Antarctica

When talking to 7News about the flights, Antarctica Flights CEO Bas Bosschieter called them a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“There is no passport or luggage needed for an Antarctica Flight, you can even go in board shorts if you wish. 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.”

“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.”

During the flight, passengers are all provided with drinks and offered a meal service while watching videos about what they can expect to see. The Antarctica flights also have expert lecturers onboard, who give talks and then walk through the cabin answering specific questions. 

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You start to see ice after three hours

The flight itself is reasonably long, with not much to see until the aircraft is about three hours into the journey. It is then that passengers will start to see float ice on the watery blue expanse below.

Qantas Antarctica Flights
Passengers will start to see ice around three hours into the flight. Photo: Antarctica Flights

Once over the mainland, the plane hugs the coasts as the captain takes her down to a lower altitude for better viewing. Heading inland, between several mountains, the aircraft makes a loop around the magnetic South Pole before heading home to Australia. 

It doesn’t come cheap

A word of warning: while this sounds like heaps of fun, it doesn’t come cheap! 

Prices for seats on one of the scheduled seven flights start from AUD 1,199 ($857) for a place over the wing up to AUD 7,999 ($5,714) for business class. The flights will operate between November and February, which is when the continent sees its best weather. To find out more about Antarctica Flights, click on the link.

Qantas Antarctica Flights
The plane loops around the magnetic South Pole and heads home to Australia. Photo: Antarctica Flights

The flights over Antarctica became possible using planes with two engines after 2011 when the ETOPS rating for twin-engine jets was raised from 180 minutes to 330 minutes. This effectively meant that twin-engine aircraft like the Boeing 787 can now fly virtually anywhere.

What do you think of the Antarctica flights? Is it something you would be interested in doing? Please let us know what you think in the comments.