Want a quick way to check the seventh continent off your must-see list? An Australian company offers a 12-hour sightseeing flights of Antarctica. Since 1994, Croydon Travel (in conjunction with Qantas) has been taking tourists on air tours of the icy South Pole. During the flight (three hours getting to the ice, four hours over the ice, and the remaining time returning to departure cities Melbourne or Sydney), Antarctic experts talk about the history and environment of the continent and answer passenger questions. The price? Seats start at $999 each. That's a lot cheaper than any cruise to the area. But of course, there are catches.
Like any large aircraft, there are middle seats. While passengers on this Qantas 747-400 are assigned two seats—people in most of the cabins will get to rotate during the flight to give everyone a chance at a window seat—those paying $999 only pay for a middle seat and do not get to participate in the seating rotation. During the time over the ice, all passengers are allowed to get up to look out the windows, but, if you're like me, if I'm paying $999 for a view of the Antarctic, I don't want to miss a minute of it. The next type of seat offered (Economy Class Standard) goes for $1399. Ouch. And that doesn't even factor in the amount of C02 you're pumping out into the atmosphere as you're on board the flight. Conservation International's carbon offset calculator estimates you're responsible for 3.1 tons of C02 for the flight.
Photo: courtesy Croydon Travel