Imagine being able to experience the very best of Antarctica – the icy but stunning wilderness at the bottom of the planet – in just 12 hours, complete with talks by world experts and unique views of the glaciers.
No long trip to South America. No seasick days in Drakes Passage. No bunk beds on a converted Russian minesweeper.
Instead, you’ll be wined and dined among like-minded travellers and feel like an explorer – all from the comfort of one, warm comfortable seat.
Impossible? Amazingly, it isn’t.
I had no idea what an Antarctica Flight would involve when I first heard of it. All I knew was I desperately wanted to see those glaciers! So, when I discovered that I would simply need to board a Qantas 747 from Sydney to be flown directly to the most picturesque and inspiring location of this stunning ice-covered continent, my response was “when can I go?!”
There are only a small handful of these flights that operate per year, and they sell out quickly. Especially since the price is little more than an economy ride to Europe. So I didn’t need a lot of convincing – and I didn’t even need to pack!
The first thing that struck me as different to a normal flight was that I was handed two boarding passes. Of course! It’s so that half way through, most passengers are told to jump up and change seats, so that everyone has the chance to sit at a window and experience the best views. Genius!
Oh, and what views they are. You take off, have a brief meal, sit back for an inflight movie and then before you know it, you’re being told by the Captain to take a look out of the right hand side of the plane. There you can see one of the most exquisite glaciers on earth.
You’ve likely seen a stack of magazine covers and maybe a few documentaries featuring Antarctica… but nothing prepares you for the real thing. Azure blues, glowing greens, stark whites and deep turquoise colours all jut against each other in perfect harmony.
The landscape transforms continuously, as does the inflight experience. The friendly Antarctica Flights staff work side by side with the professional Qantas crew to keep you constantly informed – and pampered – all at the same time.
Inflight announcements are made by experts in glaciology and environmental science. There’s even a loudspeaker broadcast of a live conversation between the flight crew and the scientists on the ground at the Aussie base camp, right below us.
It’s incredible, listening to the team down there talking candidly about how their day is going, how they survive in that environment, how they are keeping warm and perhaps what they will have for lunch today.
As you leap from your seat to race to the other side of the plane for yet another entirely different jaw-dropping view, you get chatting to your fellow passengers. It’s impossible not to, since you’re standing next to people through the whole journey who are experiencing raw emotions that make them cry, hug strangers, cheer loudly, and at times, stand completely speechless. Every person on this flight is here to achieve a bucket list dream.
At one point I asked a lovely elderly gentleman next to me – who appeared to be in his late 80’s – what inspired him to be on the flight. This is what he said:
“My wife of sixty years and I have been saving for a trip to Antarctica for most of our lives. It’s just something we have always shared as our life long dream. Sadly, she passed away a few months ago, after we had booked our tickets. So, I am here today with my ten year old grandson, who is sharing the flight with me in her honour.”
And this was just one of the stories I heard from people on board the flight that day.
If you have any desire to see this spectacular frozen land, then book your seat as soon as you possibly can. It’s more than a flight, it’s a moment that will transform you – and that’s not something you want to wait too long to experience.
For more information and to book on the flight from Melbourne departing 16 February 2020, go to: Antarctica Flights.