Qantas Boeing 747 Overfly Antarctica

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We have answered the most frequently asked questions about Antarctica Sightseeing Flights. If you have a question that isn't answered here, please email your question to us.

How long is the flight and how long do you spend over the ice?
The average flight duration is 12 hours (depending on your departure point). About three hours into the flight we usually see the first sea ice and icebergs. We spend four hours over Antarctica and the remaining four hours traveling home.(see map)

There is a lot of activity on board, especially on the way to and from the continent. Antarctic experts who have lived on scientific research bases give talks on the environment and history, and will answer all of your questions. Video screenings and live radio link ups with the scientists on the research bases show what it is like to live on Antarctica. A cockpit mounted camera transmitting through the video systems on board gives you a pilot's eye view for the entire flight including take off and landing.

What time do you depart and return?
Departure and return times vary slightly depending on your chosen departure point.

How does the seating rotation work?
Every passenger (excluding Economy Centre & Business Centre) is allocated two Boarding Passes. At the half way point of the flight, an announcement is made asking passengers to move to the seat listed on their second boarding pass. Business and First Class passengers will be seated in a window seat for half of the flight and in a next to window seat for the other half. Economy Premium and Economy Standard passengers will have a window seat or the seat next to a window seat for half of the flight and an aisle seat for the other half of the flight. Economy Centre & Business Centre seats do not rotate. For a simple diagrammatic explanation please go to Seating. It is important to note that while over Antarctica, most passengers get up from their seats and move about the aircraft, allowing everyone on board to enjoy excellent viewing opportunities. The aircraft flies in long sweeping 'figure 8s' over various points of interest to allow these spectacular sights to be viewed from both sides of the aircraft.

Can I reserve a particular seat?
You may select a seating class but not a particular seat. Seats are allocated on the best available at time of reservation, however final seating allocation is done the evening before departure when final bookings are confirmed.

What viewing opportunities do I get from a centre seat?
While the Economy Centre seats do not rotate, ample viewing can still be achieved by walking to any available window space or exit zone. There is a fantastic atmosphere of cooperation, with most passengers sharing the experience.

How much can I see from the Economy Standard section (over the wing)?
The viewing of Antarctica is out, not down from the aircraft, so excellent viewing can still be achieved from this section.

How does the weather affect the flight?
We have 18 different approved flight plans. Our Captain views the satellite cloud picture on the morning of the flight and selects the route with the best visibility on the day. We have offered excellent viewing on each of our 73 previous flights.

How low do you fly?
|When over Antarctica we fly at approximately 10,000 feet above sea level, which brings us within 2000 feet of the highest ground. This altitude provides excellent viewing while still respecting the wildlife habitats at sea level.

Do you get to walk on the ice?
We do not land on Antarctica, primarily for environmental reasons. Antarctica is as close to a pristine environment as there is on Earth. The activity of Antarctica Sightseeing Flights has been approved by all Antarctic Treaty nations. Most importantly, you cannot see the spectacular views available from the aircraft when you are on the ground.

Can you see penguins and other wildlife?
As most Antarctic wildlife lives at sea level, 10,000 feet below the aircraft, we cannot see them in any detail. This altitude is required to protect the various species. To experience the wonders of Antarctic wildlife, you would need to join a cruise, which we can assist you with.

Can we take photographs and videos?
Absolutely! All cameras are welcome. We are always getting feedback from passengers who are delighted with their photographic results - and these are amateur photographers! We even provide a few fun onboard photographic opportunities where you can try on Antarctic clothing or hug a 'life size' penguin. The information pack you will receive after you book your flight contains photography hints and tips.

Do you get meals and drinks on the flight?
Even though this is classed as a domestic flight, we provide international standard service on our Qantas 747 - 400. Two full meal services, snacks over the ice, and complimentary bar service is provided.

Am I too old or too young to join the flight?
People of all ages are welcome on the flights, however we do ask you to consider the following.

  • Children under 16 years of age must travel with an adult. If you are travelling alone, you should be able to move around the cabin unaided
  • Parents should remember that this is a very long day for younger children.
Do I need my passport?
You will not need a passport, as this is classified as a domestic flight and you will board the flight at the domestic terminal. However you will be required to present some sort of photo ID at check-in.

Do I need insurance?
Travel insurance is recommended. Special premiums are available. Enquire when booking.

Departure Information and Prices