Antarctic flights were not very common in travel before the air-cruise model. However, Antarctica21 pioneered the Antarctic fly-cruise program in 2003. As of March 2020, we’ve operated 225 Antarctic flights over the Drake Passage, the body of water that separates South America and Antarctica. DAP Airlines is our official Antarctica flight partner, and it has over 25 years of experience flying to Antarctica and other locations in Patagonia.
The Benefits of Flying to Antarctica
Flying over the Drake Passage allows you to reach Antarctica quickly so that you can make the most of your vacation time. By not crossing by ship, you also avoid the Drake’s turbulent waters, the possibility of getting seasick, and the chance of injury while sailing through rough seas.
Antarctic Flight Benefits with Antarctica21
- Our Antarctic Flights: Antarctica21 specializes in small group expeditions, which means that all our guests can be accommodated on a single flight to Antarctica. This flight benefit is important because flying to Antarctica means you always have to be watching the weather, and only having one flight to transport our guests means we have fewer flight delays.
- Priority on Antarctic Flights: Antarctica21 has flight priority at the Punta Arenas airport, which means we fly when there are the best conditions for crossing to Antarctica. If on the day of our scheduled flight, changeable weather conditions only offer one opportunity to fly, that opportunity is reserved for Antarctica21. This benefit allows us to take advantage of the narrowest possible Antarctic flight window, which leaves us with more flexibility and reduces the chance of flight delays. Other expedition companies with larger ships operate two Antarctic flights for every departure to accommodate all their passengers. With two flights, the flight and cruise components’ coordination requires more time, as well as the turnover operation at King George Island.
- Key Logistics in Punta Arenas: Antarctica21 is the only company formed and based in Punta Arenas, Chile. Since 2003, we have created a significant network of local suppliers and services that make our Antarctic operation as smooth as possible. Due to this network of providers, we can respond and quickly adapt our travel plans depending on the ever-changing conditions in Antarctica. To learn more, read about our contingency plan below.
Can Antarctic Flights have delays?
Yes, flight delays can happen like any other flight in the world. We do everything in our power to ensure that your flight is on time. However, in Antarctica, Mother Nature rules and delays can be caused by low clouds, fog, and heavy wind conditions at King George Island in Antarctica. This rule applies for both flights to Antarctica and flights back to South America.
Our passengers and crew’s safety is our number one priority on our flights and our expedition cruises, so we are always monitoring the weather and making adjustments to our plans if needed. That said, since 2003, we have only had two delays that lasted more than two days.
Antarctica21 Flight Statistics
Since we first started operation in 2003 and until our most recent season ended in March 2020, we have operated 225 flights to Antarctica. Here is the breakdown of those flights:
– 179 flights (78.9%) have left on the scheduled day.
– 36 flights (15.9%) left either the day before or the day after their scheduled day of departure.
– 8 flights (3.5%) were delayed by two days.
In our 14-year history, only two flights were delayed beyond two days. That’s the point beyond which half of the Antarctic expedition would be impacted and the moment when we would interrupt the trip and extend a full refund.
Contingency plan for Antarctic flights
Even though the likelihood of delay or interruption is slim, we are well prepared. Should your flight from Punta Arenas be delayed, rest assured that all your tours, meals, and accommodations are not only pre-arranged but also included in the cost of your expedition. While we wait for the opportunity to fly to Antarctica, depending on the delay’s nature, we will show you the local historical sites and the local flora and fauna.
In the unlikely event that your Antarctic flight cannot take place by 2 PM on day 4 of your expedition, you will receive a full refund of the cruise fare. If your flight from Antarctica back to Chile is delayed, your tour in Antarctica will be extended, with on board activities, excursions, and meals also included. Our primary goal with the contingency plan is to provide an engaging and comfortable travel experience while adapting to the weather – it is, after all, an adventure experience!