While expedition cruising to Antarctica is rapidly growing in popularity, the prospect of a much shorter experience to see the stunning beauty of the white continent by air appeals to a different type of traveller.
Cruises operate during the summer season between December and March with departures from various locations including Australia, New Zealand and South America. The trip, although immensely rewarding, can be gruelling due to the sailing conditions and remoteness of departure points.
Scenic flyovers are a more straightforward option with flights departing between November to January from Perth, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart onboard a Qantas 747.
The flight path takes a heading towards the South Pole and after about three hours, you can expect to see the first icebergs appear as was the case on the flight I joined.
Passed the Pole, we continued towards the French base of Dumont Dúrville and then descended to 10,000 feet. The next five-hours were spent zig-zagging along the fringe of the ice shelf passed Commonwealth Bay to Cape Adare as we soared over mountains, lakes, inlets and icebergs below.
From here it was low level flying at its best with multiple sharp banks and figure eight formations to give people on both sides of the aircraft equal viewing options.
Unlike conventional flights, passengers are encouraged to walk around the cabin and mingle with fellow travellers. Coveted window vantage points are shared but most viewing is lateral anyway and not necessarily straight down so there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone.
On my flight, two Antarctic scientists provided expert commentary and guidance throughout the cabin fielding questions from passengers.
These scenic flights use a seat rotation to guarantee passengers ample viewing time. The economy cabin layout on the 747 is 3x4x3.
Mid-flight, there was a seat rotation where those seated in the aisle seats, swapped with the window and adjacent middle seat for viewing on the last half of the sightseeing tour.
The lowest priced seats in the middle section did not rotate but as mentioned, people walked around the whole time.
Two ‘international standard’ meals are served during the 13-hour flight with snacks in-between including slices of hot pizza, apples, cheese and crackers, bite size muesli bars and drinks of your choice.
The return four-hour flight has a dinner service, with a choice of two meals.
The pricing is split between the cabins and priced accordingly.
For the 2017/8 summer season, the prices are:
- Economy Class Middle – $1,199 (no rotation)
- Economy Class Standard (over wing view) – $1,999
- Economy Class Superior (rear cabin, full view) – $2,999
- Premium Economy Class (over wing view) – $3,299
- Business Class Centre (no rotation) – $4,299
- Business Class Deluxe (window seats) – $7,499
- Ice Class (small cabin in nose of aircraft) – $7,999
How to book
Call Well Travelled on 1300 041 781 for more information and to reserve your seat today.
Published under license from Well Travelled.