Four Pilots, 17+ Hours Plus Antarctica

The best way from Buenos Aires to Darwin is apparently via south Australia. Qantas flight QF14 “approached Australia from the south on Wednesday night, crossing the Great Australian Bight to then fly over the Red Centre to Darwin.” reports:

“The longest commercial flight in Qantas’ history landed in Darwin on Wednesday night after a route that took it from Buenos Aires over the coast of Antarctica on a near-18 hour long haul.

The repatriation flight was the return leg of a charter flight that carried Argentina’s rugby team home from Brisbane to Buenos Aires on Sunday after the 2021 Rugby Championship. The Department of Foreign Affairs were notified about the flight and worked with Qantas to use the returning plane to bring home Australians.

Flight QF14 took off from Buenos Aires at 12.44pm local time, 19 minutes behind schedule, but landed in Darwin five minutes early after a journey that took 17 hours, 25 minutes.”

With a view of Antarctica:

Captain Alex Passerini, Qantas’s chief technical pilot, said, “We’ll end up flying over the continent at around 73 or 74 south latitude, depending on the winds,” he said. “Hopefully the cloud cover will be kind to us and we can give our passengers a view.”

By comparison, in the north, 74 degrees north latitude crosses Novaya Zemlya in Siberia, here from Wikipedia:

It’s About Time

At last the US will lift its travel ban on vaccinated EU & UK travelers, from November. A ban on vaccinated people never made much sense. but better late than never.

Bees Get Jet Lag Too


World’s Shortest Flight

Here’s the entire flight between Westray and Papa Westray, Orkney islands. It’s 1.7 miles, shorter than Heathrow runways.

Belarus Flight Map

In response to Belarus’s state-sponsored air piracy, a bold move by the European Union, like, say, blocking Belarus’s connection to the SWIFT payments system in EU countries, would be shocking. But it appears even the EU’s tepid recommendation that airlines avoid Belarusian airspace has been effective. And Bloomberg estimates air transit fees are the source of $60-70 million a year for Belarus.

Have a look at my archive of Belarus posts for how Minsk felt when I visited in 2010 (Hint: pretty creepy).

They’re Not Making It Easy

The Covid AVDaily newsletter reacts to the UK’s “green list” of countries approved for travel without the requirement for travelers to quarantine on their return. They’re unimpressed.

They note that “it includes a number of remote islands such as South Georgia, as well as countries that are right now not welcoming tourists (e.g. Australia, New Zealand and Singapore).”

Then there is talk of passengers facing immigration queues of up to seven hours. The newsletter opines that “Governments like the UK are sending signals that they’d rather people didn’t travel. One of the most revealing parts of Friday’s announcement was when … Paul Lincoln from the UK Border Force (talked) about significant border delays. Lincoln said that each officer would be taking up to ten minutes to check every passenger … listening to him talk the message seemed to be ‘these are the consequences of you choosing to travel.’

Nobody needs that. So we’ve routed ourselves through Amsterdam Schiphol for our July visit to Finland. 


Quotes: in the US, Flying Soars

Seven of the 10 most-active international city pairs feature US links, suggesting one of the world’s most-advanced inoculation programs is uncorking demand that’s been building for a year.

And OAG forecasts that the U.S. domestic market “should return to almost normal levels by July.”

Forbes, also using OAG’s data, isn’t so sure.

First Post-Pandemic Destination: Belize

We’ve taken our first flight in fourteen months from our home in Georgia, USA. Much as they might appreciate our business, not a lot of places want Americans right now, and judging from the airport, with cause. Certain of us won’t acquit ourselves well when we arrive.

A return to the airport reminds you that a benefit of largely quarantining inside your own enclosed small space is that you make your own rules. Even as we could hear others around our apartment partying this past year, people whose approach to quarantine apparently involved about twenty close friends, we kept a closed regime. 

The first thing that’s plain in the airport is that some people are just going to be ornery and you just can’t stop them. ATL bustled along fairly close to normal, lots of amenities, shops open and some people, damn them, are clearly just not going to respect distance, with no mask in sight and an undercurrent of belligerence, just as we’ve seen in American politics through the entire pandemic. After a year of only seeing that behavior on TV, it’s disappointing to see it live.

But we thank the welcoming people of Belize for having us. They accepted our vaccination cards and welcomed us with smiles. It’s lovely here. Cheers.

Crazy Stuff About Flying, Falling and Surviving

“Granted, the odds of surviving a 6-mile plummet are extra­ordinarily slim, but at this point you’ve got nothing to lose by understanding your situation.”

If you’re good with that premise, here is How to Fall 35,000 feet (and Survive).


New Travel Column at 3QD

My monthly travel column, about southwest Africa is live now at 3QuarksDaily. Read it at 3QD now, and I’ll put it up here on CSW in a few days. It’s a consideration of dodgy and disastrous colonialism in Southwest Africa, with a little flying adventure on the side.