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Qantas to fly Aussies over Antarctica on 12hr scenic expedition

written by Hannah Dowling | August 11, 2020

In the past, these flights would be conducted by Qantas Boeing 747s (Credit: Antarctica Flights)

Qantas has announced it will restart its scenic 12-hour flights from Australia to Antarctica and back, giving Australians a unique opportunity to view the frozen continent from above.

Australia’s flagship carrier has partnered with tour company Antarctica Flights to provide a privately chartered Qantas Boeing 787 Dreamliner, for a total of seven flights from Australia to the arctic during its peak-daylight summer months.

From November to April, Australians will be able to set off on the ultimate day trip over the icy continent, with flights departing from Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.

Those on board will begin to see the icy expanses of the Antarctic at around the three-hour mark of the 12-13 hour flight, as the aircraft dips down for better viewing. 

For the next four hours or so, passengers onboard will experience the magic of Antarctica’s glaciers and ice floes, as well as the rugged mountains of the Antarctic mainland, before the 787-9 crosses the south magnetic pole and heads back to Australian soil.


With over 19 different flight paths over the continent, no two scenic trips will be the same, according to Antarctica Flights.

Further, the flight includes two full meal services, a full bar service, in-flight entertainment, as well as plenty of information from lecturers and arctic explorers on board.

The best part is, as ongoing international border restrictions loom amid the COVID-19 pandemic, passengers will be able to see a new corner of the world without even a passport, as the flight technically departs and lands in Australia.

“There is no passport or luggage needed for an Antarctica Flight, you can even go in board shorts if you wish,” Antarctica Flights CEO Bas Bosschieter told the media.

“It really is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to visit Antarctica in a day. 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’.”

The tour company has assured customers that it will block seats in the economy cabin to maintain social distancing onboard, and passengers will be provided a personal Qantas pack with a disposable face mask, sanitiser and disinfectant wipes.

Additionally, everyone on board will be required to complete a health and safety declaration form, as well as perform a contactless temperature test prior to embarkation. Those people with a fever (38 degrees or higher) will be denied boarding, however will receive a credit for a future Antarctica Flight.

Guests will also be provided an extra headrest cover and sanitising wipes in preparation for the seat rotation, which takes place halfway through the journey.

Prices start from $1,199 per person for an economy seat, while business class deluxe seats are available for $7,999.

Prior to their retirement earlier this year, the unique adventure was undertaken on board Qantas’ famed Boeing 747, however Antarctica Flight said the Dreamliner provides optimal viewing for passengers, thanks to its larger windows.

The flights are due to depart as following:

Sydney – 22 November 2020 and 21 February 2021

Melbourne – 15 November 2020 and 31 December 2020

Perth – 26 January 2021

Brisbane – 7 February 2021

Adelaide – 14 February 2021

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Comments (27)

  • Anton


    The news says that Qantas will charter 787s from Australia to the Arctic. You were supposed to say Antarctic instead of Arctic.

  • John


    Paragraph 2 – Antarctic not arctic.

  • Nick Abbott-Young


    Did this back in 1998, when it was done by Croydon Travel, raising money for Clean Up Australia. Red-eye flight from Adelaide to Melbourne, then the Antarctic, then last flight home. Won the auction to sit in cockpit for last 1.5 hours. Got home just before midnight. 17yo son demanded, “Where have you two been all day?” Me: “Antarctica”. Son: Expletive. Had to show him the boarding passes to convince him!

  • Andrew


    Did this trip a few years’ ago, & loved every minute of it!
    The camaraderie on-board was fantastic, & the views incredible.
    Enjoyment 100%…..

  • Wendy


    Fantastic news. No matter how much the Victorian Government is ruining lives you have found a way to help improve it and the economy.

  • Doc


    “12-hour flights from Australia to Antarctica and back” ….
    I’m glad the return leg is included !!! lol

  • Lee


    How can you be sure you get a window?

  • Gary Glover


    The Antarctic flights would seem to have been a missed opportunity for Qantas to offer frequent flyer rewards seats and/or a “Points Flight/Plane”. I would not pay to go economy class on this flight but would seriously consider going business on points.
    There is a dual benefit for Qantas:
    1. Happier FF members; and
    2. Reduction in balance sheet liability for unredeemed points

  • Linda Weaving


    Why? Who wants to sit on a plane for 12 hrs and all they get is a view of snow and ice, provided the weather is good enough? (Especially in econony. Especially if you don’t have a window seat. How do they work that out?) I would have thought the main attraction for visiting Antarctica is to get up close and personal with penguins, seals and whales, and feel the enormity of icebergs. Plus millions of people are in no position to spend big at this time, & feel a real need to save money as much as possible. I think Qantas should be more careful with their money at this time.

  • Andy Hegh


    You can do the same thing flying from Sydney to Johannesburg, as the flight goes
    directly over the Antarctic. I think its called the ‘Great Circle Route”.

  • Owen COOK


    The flight Leaving from PERTH 26 January 2021 – can QF frequent Flyer points be applicable to a selected number of seats?
    QF F/F 11227

  • Kim


    A Qantas overseas flight from little old Adelaide? At last.

  • Peter Davies


    I would have thought that Qantas might have used the A380 to go to Antarctica.Firstly it does have 4 engines and secondly it can carry more passengers.It is an extremely isolated place if anything goes wrong.

  • Edward


    For all the above commenters’, re: window seats.
    Passengers’ swap seats halfway through the actual flying over Antartica, so all get to see out a window.
    There’s also great viewing from emergency exit doors large windows’.
    Everybody is most gracious, making sure their fellow flyers’ get to see.
    I was in last row of the forward Economy section, with Exit Door behind me.
    When I first went to that area a lovely lady said, ‘ oh, this person hasn’t looked out the window yet’, & folk moved aside. Such was the great camaraderie on board.
    People just talked to each other in the aisles, & had a fab time.
    It was a coming together of passengers’, with a common goal of seeing the magnificent continent below.
    FYI, the aircraft is CHARTERED from QANTAS, by private company Antartica Flights, hence NO FF seats offered.

    • kim


      Were you able to get any decent photos? is the economy seating ok?

      Would love to do this but not on that business seat budget.

  • AlanH


    I agree. I would have thought the A380 was a no-brainer for this sort of excursion.

  • Ghulam Rasul SHUJAI


    Interesting journey I love it

  • Steve


    12 hours in a twin jet over freezing seas and frozen landscape with no immediate assistance in case of trouble does not fill me with much yearning for a snow change.
    Then there is Mt Erebus, with the old hulk of the Kiwi DC10 splattered on one side.
    No, not too eager.

  • Edward


    As this is a CHARTERED aircraft from QF by a private company, how about the cost of an A380 being way too expensive for them, & not giving them any $ return for the charter cost?
    Antarctica Flights want to make a profit, hence the chartering of a Boeing 787 for their Antarctica sight-seeing flights.

  • Edward


    To Steve above…..

    Have you read the two books on the Erebus disaster, which explain how & why the crash happened?

    ‘Verdict on Erebus’ by Justice Peter Mahon & ‘Impact: Erebus’ by Capt Gordon Vette.

    Both extremely worthwhile.

  • Nick


    Regarding the A380’s the answers pretty simple. They’ll be all in long term storage for 3 years in VCV, lots of work to get them into hibernation, lots of work to get them out, plus VCV is 12+hrs flight from AU. Pretty clear why they won’t be made serviceable to come out and operate several flights before being stored again.

  • Reg Birchmore


    I went from Perth on Jan 27th 2013 on 747 VH-OEE, she had just been re-furbished and like new inside, those four turning engines made me feel quite safe. Trouble is flying due South from Perth takes you to see lots of coastline, snow and ice, big floating icebergs, ice shelfs and an Australian base we orbited around twice but otherwise four hours worth of mostly flattish scenery . I have noticed however that flights from the Eastern States from photos I viewed on Facebook around the same time I went, takes one to far different topography than I saw. If I could go again I would have to fly to Melbourne to join their flights to view the huge glaciers and big mountains, really majestic scenery which was not seen on our flight. Having said that, I enjoyed the flight, the full food service, a full bar where everyone congregated, it was like a club in the sky for the whole duration. I’m pleased I made the trip and can tell people I’ve been to Antarctica if only at 10,000 feet and if I ever win lotto, I will sit up the pointy end which I have only ever visited when entering or departing any plane I have been on.
    Best 12 hour flight I have ever made.

  • Edward


    To Nick Abbott-Young, & Reg Birchmore above…..

    Yes, ‘bragging rights’ of a Day-Flight to Antartica have got to be just THE most!
    I went to ‘Woolies’ the day after for groceries’, & the checkout operator asked me ‘what did you do on the weekend’. I just calmly stated ‘I went to Antarctica’. She looked at me, drop-jawed, & all she could say was ‘Really’!
    It was just the best day I think I’ve ever had.

  • peter chrisp


    Just the thought of it sounds amazing I understand too you can swap seats on the plane on certain times. Once you are over The Antartica, depending if the plane is full it may be more difficult to try & get some good shots from the window as everyone else will be doing the same. As it took me awhile to fly again 20 years! Flew to New Zealand, China, Japan twice
    Korea, Japan & Taiwan in the one trip. Singapore, Malaysia & hope i spell it Kuala Lumpur.

  • Reg Birchmore


    Peter Chrisp you must go. Everyone needs to fly to Antarctica at least once in a lifetime although it costs more in economy than a week in Bali. As Andrew above says, all passengers are very gracious about letting people take photos. Two hours over the ice and everyone changes seats. I used an exit over the wings to take some, just kneel on the floor and click away, though check behind you now and again as there might be more waiting. I’ve done a lot of flying commercially , even had a student pilots licence but couldn’t complete it due to mortgage, kids etc, but a pilot friend let me take off and fly around often but not land (wisely). We did a night flight to keep his hours up but flying inland away from the lights of Perth over sheer darkness was quite concerning to me as one needs to put faith in that one engine and the instruments, I realised then that we would be toast if we lost that engine. We landed at Perth airport after and taxied in past a ‘heavy jet’ about to depart to have a cup of coffee before taking off again for Jandakot. This was in the 1970’s and I doubt if we could do that sort of thing nowadays with it being a very busy 24 hour airport. Amongst others, I did a westbound ‘around the world’ a few years ago and have never got my lost day back. Going on an Antarctic flight is unlike any other, one can walk around the cabin freely and chat to one and other, even flight attendants were excited and taking photo’s, one saying it was her first trip too. The pilots even let us hear the chatter of the tower and departure on the address system as we left. I cannot recommend it enough. Take a good pair of sun glasses, you’ll need them.

  • Paula Elieff


    How do we book the Perth flight please.

  • Reg Birchmore


    Sorry for delay Paula, I guess you might have to do a web search these days. It used to be Croydon Travel when I went in 2013. There was a full page article in the Weekend West or was it the Sunday Times about 6 weeks ago. Maybe Qantas might help though they just lease the aircraft and crew out to the organisers for the day. I hope this helps. P.S. the flights over the Great Barrier Reef and Red Centre by Qantas sounds like a good idea but at the moment they’re just out of Sydney it seems. Good Luck, Reg

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