Friday, January 8, 2010

Qantas A380 Airbus fly passengers over Antarctica

A Qantas A380 Airbus has become the first of the giant airliners to fly passengers over Antarctica, taking 450 revellers out of Melbourne to see in the new year.

A380 over Antarctica

The cheapest seat is $999, the dearest more than $6000. It's the first time an A380 has done such a trip. The travel company involved has run these Antarctic flights since 1994, until now on Boeing 747s. In a way it's a voyage to nowhere, take-off and landing in the same place. It feels somehow as if it shouldn't be happening. The plane has orange, yellow and purple streamers inside. At midnight we find ourselves with champagne and party whistles. In a plane.

A380 over Antarctica

The first iceberg is seen from the plane's left side at 9.50pm. It triggers a rush of excitement, but it's an exercise in diplomacy to get near a window. Head pilot John Dennis is lounging in first class at the time, letting his underlings fly. He's done 40 of these missions. The pilots are treated like celebrities. Later they will sign autographs.

Captain Dennis waves off that first iceberg with the air of someone who knows what will happen next. ''Don't worry about it,'' he says. ''There will be more.''

A380 over Antarctica

Recommended reading:
* Qantas A380 passengers tarmac ordeal

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