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Flights to Antarctica

There’s more than one way to travel to Antarctica! While over 90% of travelers choose the route by ship through the Drake Passage (like many heroic explorers in history), some prefer to fly. It’s a way to shorten your trip, avoid seasickness and see Antarctica from above.

Can you fly to Antarctica?

Can you fly to Antarctica?

From November to February (during the Antarctic summer) you can catch a flight to the White Continent. Don’t expect a regular flight schedule – Antarctica routes are charter flights, departing usually from cities in South America, Australia and South Africa. Be prepared for flight delays due to the unpredictable weather conditions on the Antarctic Continent. Tour operators offer one-day flights to Antarctica, options with overnight on the continent and even combined trips by plane and cruise ship. A regular Antarctic cruise starts from the southern tip of Argentina and crosses to the Antarctic Peninsula in about 50 hours. If you want to cut this experience short, you can board a flight in Punta Arenas (the only commercial airfield in southern Chile that offers flights to the White Continent) and fly to Antarctica in about 2 hours, landing at Frei Station on King George Island (one of the Chilean Antarctic research stations).

Advantages and disadvantages of fly-cruises

Advantages and disadvantages of fly-cruises

Flying or cruising – which should you choose? It all depends on your adventurous spirit, appetite for exploration, what you want to see and how much time you can set aside for the trip. If you want to visit Antarctica, we recommend making a list with your must-see items and then doing the research. What kind of adventure will fulfill your dreams?

Antarctica air cruises will get you there faster, allowing you to skip the infamous Drake Passage and see the White Continent from above. With no scheduled flights, you will have to book with a tour operator and choose from the available options. Travelling by plane will get you to the remote interior of Antarctica, with its bleak ice deserts and harsh weather conditions. There are even options to overnight on the continent, for example, at the Union Glacier Camp, with lots of activities such as cross-country skiing and fat-tire biking.

A small expedition ship gives you the unique opportunity to see tucked-away gems and the spectacular scenery of the Antarctic Peninsula, as well as the incredible subantarctic islands (South Georgia Island, South Shetland Islands and the Falkland Islands). Cruise ships offer all conveniences, including gourmet meals, comfortable cabins, Zodiac cruising, lectures, laundry service, kayaking and a night out camping in Antarctica.

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Advantages and disadvantages of fly-cruises

Advantages

  • Save time:

Roundtrip flights to Antarctica and exploring can be done in a one-day trip. The flight time from Punta Arena to King George Island is around 2 hours, while a flight to the Union Glacier Basecamp would take around 4 hours. You can book a one-day tour flying to King George Island in the morning, see penguins and icebergs for lunch, and return in the evening.

  • Avoid the Drake Passage:

Many travelers fear the infamous crossing on their Antarctic cruise and are worried about seasickness. Flying will let you skip this rough part of the Southern Ocean.

  • Unlock Antarctica’s interior:

While cruises focus on exploring the coastlines, flights can take you to the remote interior regions of the continent. You’ll get to experience harsher weather, dramatic mountain ranges and bleak wide icy deserts. Land on a blue ice runway – an experience in and of itself!.

Alternative Ways to get to Antarctica

Disadvantages

  • Expect delays:

Be prepared to be delayed. Even during the austral summer, weather conditions are unpredictable and multiple-day delays are possible.

  • Cost:

A roundtrip flight to Antarctica with landing on the continent starts from around $6,700 per person. Overnight options start at $7,800, but can go much higher if you book multiple nights and extra activities.

  • You miss out on the Drake Passage experience:

Yes, we know – this should be an advantage, but did you know that it is an adventure by itself to cross it? You can spot amazing wildlife such as whales and albatrosses, and feel like a real explorer while getting your sea legs.

When is the best time to fly to Antarctica?

How much does it cost to fly to Antarctica?

Weather on and around the White Continent is harsh and unpredictable, and only specialized aircraft with very experienced pilots are able to make the trip. Flights to Antarctica cost on average more than regular flights that cover similar distances. With only around 2-4 hours flight time, you are looking into costs starting from $6,600 for round trip flights with landing in Antarctica. One-day trips from Cape Town to Antarctica (Wolf’s Fang Camp) start at around $14,500. There are flightseeing only options (without landing on the continent) for those who just want to enjoy the Antarctic landscapes from a bird’s-eye view. Such flights depart, for example, from Sydney and start at around $800.

Antarctic Planes

British Aerospace 146 A short-haul regional airliner manufactured in the United Kingdom with a capacity of 80 people, this plane is perfectly suited for short runways and non-tarmac airstrips (crucial for Antarctica flights).

Ilyushin IL-76 TD Designed for heavy machinery delivery, this Soviet-designed plane with a capacity of 60 people copes perfectly with the Antarctic weather conditions and short, non-tarmac airstrips.

Which airlines fly to Antarctica?

About Flight Delays

While flights to Antarctica depart usually on time, delays are possible due to the unpredictable weather conditions. Some trips fly travelers to their Antarctic cruise departure port (King George Island). Flight delays can cause cruise delays and, in rare cases, cancellations. But these are extreme situations! Most of the time travelers are only delayed for a few hours, which does not affect the overall expedition. Should your flight to Antarctica arrive late, cruise operators have contingency plans in place.

Alternative Ways to get to Antarctica

Want to feel like a real expeditioner and discover the White Continent like many historic explorers before you? Cruise aboard a ship! Today’s cruise ships are perfectly suited for small expeditions and let you enjoy the beauty of Antarctica in comfort and style. Some cruises even cross the Antarctic Circle. A large deck gives you plenty of opportunities for wildlife viewing.

While you sail the open ocean you can join workshops on history, wildlife, geography and photography hosted by our onboard specialists. In the coastal areas, you can explore aboard small Zodiac boats that bring you closer to wildlife (without disturbing it!). For adventurous travelers, some cruises offer kayaking and the opportunity to camp one night on the shores of Antarctica in warm sleeping bags under the sky of the Southern Hemisphere.

Check out our expedition schedule for the upcoming season and find your Antarctic dream cruise!

Do airplanes have scheduled landings in Antarctica?

Conclusion

Which Antarctic adventure you choose depends on you. If you want to experience the harsh interior, an Antarctica flight trip may be your best choice. You’ll also get to see the continent from above. If you want to explore wildlife, icebergs and the beautiful beaches of the subantarctic islands, then a cruise is the better option. Flights start from $6,600 for a roundtrip ticket. In comparison, prices for a 10-day Antarctic Peninsula cruise with all meals and excursions included start at around $10,000 (or even cheaper, if you’re lucky enough to book with a special offer or early bird discount).

FAQ

Can you fly to the Antarctic?

Yes, you can take a charter flight to Antarctica. There are no regular commercial flights.

When is the best time to fly to Antarctica?

Flying to Antarctica is only possible during the austral summer (November to February), when the weather permits landings on the continent.

Which airlines fly to Antarctica?

There are no commercial Antarctic flights. Tour operators offer charter trips, Antarctica air cruise and tour packages.

Do airplanes have scheduled landings in Antarctica?

There is no regular flight schedule. Charter planes fly to Antarctica (organized by tour operators) and travelers need to be prepared for delays if weather conditions are unfavorable.

How much does it cost to fly to Antarctica?

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