Final February, I loved a chic vacation that I’ll keep in mind as my most epic journey ever: a visit to Cape City (South Africa) and Antarctica (the seventh Continent). You possibly can learn my journey experiences right here:
As we speak: First Class flight from Cape City to Antarctica in a personal Airbus A340 jet
Final February, I flew in a personal Airbus A340 jet from Cape City Worldwide Airport to a blue-ice runway in Antarctica, a unprecedented journey which took round 5 hours and half-hour. The flight was operated by the airline Hello Fly and chartered by White Desert, the primary and solely operator taking company into the not often seen inside of Antarctica. White Desert has been pioneering luxurious journey within the White Continent since 2005 and makes use of both a Gulfstream G550 or an Airbus A340 to fly its company, explorers, scientists and freight to its camps and a number of other analysis facilities in Antarctica. When its Airbus A340 touched down in Antarctica for the very first time final 12 months, it made headlines around the globe. Visitor can guide the flight as a day journey (with three hours on the bottom in Antarctica) or decide to remain at certainly one of White Desert’s luxurious camps in Antarctica (with actions together with mountain climbing, abseiling, fats biking, and journeys to the South Pole & Emperor penguins).
Have you ever ever traveled to Antarctica? If that’s the case, what was your expertise? Go away a remark.
- Flight route: Cape City to Wolf’s Fang Runway
- Airline: Hello Fly
- Plane sort: Airbus A340-300
- Plane registration quantity: 9H-TQZ
- Departure time: 7 pm
- Arrival: 10:30 pm
- Miles: 2300 miles (4630 km)
- Flight time: 5 hours and half-hour
- Seat: 1K
- Class: First Class
On this evaluation (extra data & pictures beneath my YouTube video):
- About White Desert
- Security briefing
- Airport lounge
- Airbus A340
- First Class cabin & seat
- Touchdown in Antarctica
1. ABOUT WHITE DESERT
Pioneers of luxurious journey in Antarctica, White Desert was established by record-breaking polar explorer duo Patrick and Robyn Woodhead in 2005. Born out of a want to permit individuals aside from scientists and polar explorers to see the wonders of the inside of Antarctica, the corporate has been established for 17 years and employs 120 individuals from 17 totally different nationalities. The corporate is vertically built-in and the one operator to fly company by personal jet straight from Cape City to Antarctica, touchdown on their very own distinctive blue-ice runway. Based with environmentally aware rules at its core, White Desert’s mission is to create a constructive influence on Antarctica’s future (a bit much like what the safari trade has meant for environmental conservation in Africa).
Right here’s some extra details about White Desert’s founders Patrick and Robyn:
- Patrick Woodhead grew up in England and as a youngster, heard the tales in regards to the ‘Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration’ and names corresponding to Shackleton and Scott. Decided to observe of their footsteps, he joined the youngest and quickest crew to ever attain the South Pole in 2002 after which went on to guide the primary ever East to West traverse of Antarctica, protecting 1850km (1149 miles) in 75 days. Exterior the polar world, he has been on many profitable expeditions, summiting unclimbed mountains in Tibet and Kyrgyzstan, kayaking down uncharted rivers within the Amazon and being a part of the crew to set the quickest crossing of the Atlantic Ocean. In 2015, he rejoined a few of his previous teammates to interrupt the document for the quickest traverse of Greenland. A passionate advocate for the setting, Patrick is a member of the Royal Geographical Society in London in addition to being a speaker for The Prince’s Belief charity.
- Robyn Woodhead grew up in Cape City in a household of intrepid vacationers. From the start, journey journey was in her DNA. After graduating from the College of Cape City, she moved to London the place she set herself up on this planet of journey advertising and PR, happening to discovered a UK-based luxurious journey advertising and promoting company. After an expedition to Antarctica in 2005, Robyn turned her consideration to the opposite finish of the planet and skied the final diploma to the North Pole in 2006, thereby changing into the primary South African to succeed in each Poles. Robyn has been concerned in accountable Antarctic journey since 2006 and is on a mission to create true “Antarctic Ambassadors” – former high-profile White Desert purchasers who then go on to make a distinction by their very own networks, serving to to safe the long run and safety of Antarctica.
Sustainability is on the very coronary heart of White Desert’s mission and the corporate does every part it could possibly to handle its impacts on the Antarctic setting. White Desert has been carbon impartial since 2007 however the firm’s largest environmental problem is in fact aviation emissions. Going deep into Antarctica’s inside is without doubt one of the defining traits of a White Desert expertise, and that’s solely attainable for the common traveler by aircraft. Nonetheless, planes produce comparatively massive quantities of carbon emissions however the firm is tackling that drawback in numerous methods:
- Over the following two years, White Desert goals to interchange all Jet A-1 gasoline it makes use of for its flights to, from and inside Antarctica by Sustainable Aviation Gas (SAF). SAF is produced from waste oils and fat by an progressive course of that considerably reduces lifecycle carbon emissions, creating an 80 p.c smaller carbon footprint in comparison with conventional Jet A-1 gasoline. SAF combustion additionally produces fewer particulates and sulphur oxides (SOx), thereby significantly lowering the amount of soot particles emitted. That is significantly important in Antarctica because the black shade of the soot absorbs the warmth of the solar, exacerbating snow soften.
- Till renewable plane gasoline exists on the business market, White Desert offsets all its flights, actions and initiatives to make sure that it achieves net-zero greenhouse gasoline emissions. Working with the UK-based Carbon Impartial Firm, White Desert sponsors a well-established tree planting undertaking within the Amazon rainforest. The group can also be exploring sustainability alternatives nearer to its house in South Africa, specifically seagrass meadow regeneration initiatives.
It’s additionally essential to understand that White Desert doesn’t solely fly vacationers to Antarctica, but additionally explorers, scientists and tons of freight for analysis facilities.
3. SAFETY BRIEFING
A compulsory security briefing is organized by White Desert on the day earlier than the scheduled flight into Antarctica. Throughout my journey, the assembly was held at Ellerman Home, certainly one of Cape City’s most unique motels (which I reviewed right here).
The briefing started with a brief presentation by Patrick Woodhead, CEO of White Desert, and his spouse Robyn, who’re each world record-breaking polar explorers. The presentation included particulars in regards to the aircraft, the journey and the camp. Robyn additionally defined the Antarctic Treaty System, which regulates worldwide relations with respect to Antarctica, Earth’s solely continent with no native human inhabitants. Enacted in 1961, the treaty asserts that no social gathering can declare territorial sovereignty over any a part of the continent and that the land can be utilized for peaceable functions solely. We have been additionally proven a brief video from the Worldwide Affiliation of Antarctica Tour Operators (IAATO) explaining our duties while on the continent.
Through the briefing it was introduced that our flight had been pulled ahead by a day as a consequence of climate circumstances. White Desert has a crew of meteorologists that decide the most effective days to fly as there must be visible circumstances to land in Antarctica and low winds to take care of security. It’s the principle purpose why company are required to reach in Cape City two days previous to their scheduled flight, as the precise timing of the flight is solely depending on the prevailing climate in Antarctica.
On the finish of the briefing, the White Desert employees went by our baggage to make sure that we had all of the clothes required in your time in camp and through your actions. They defined what we would have liked to pack into our hand baggage in order that we have been ready for our touchdown in Antarctica. A mini-shop by a third-party provider was current on the assembly, the place extra gadgets may very well be bought in case there was a necessity of that.
An luxurious amenity package was additionally supplied to all company in the course of the security briefing. It comprised a water bottle, cap, ear plugs, and a writing package.
4. AIRPORT LOUNGE
Two hours previous to the confirmed flight, White Desert picked me up from my resort in Cape City and dropped me on the airport’s Execujet Personal Lounge, a facility which is used for personal flights. Right here, a lounge was out there to company, and it was additionally the right time to satisfy different vacationers who had signed up for this White Desert journey. As soon as the aircraft was prepared for boarding, we have been pushed by automotive to the worldwide terminal, the place we needed to undergo border management and the safety check-point, earlier than being taken by bus to the plane stand.
5. AIRBUS A340
The Airbus A340 that flew us from Cape City to Antarctica – a journey of 5 hours and half-hour – was privately chartered by White Desert and operated by Hello Fly. Hello Fly is a absolutely licensed airline with two air operator certificates, one issued by Portugal and the opposite by Malta. The corporate has no scheduled locations and focuses on worldwide plane leases for airways, tour operators, governments, corporations (corresponding to White Desert) and people.
Its 4 engines redundancy and really lengthy vary make the Airbus A340 the best airplane for the sort of distant mission. The A340 airframe that flew us to Antarctica was stationed for your complete month of January in Cape City, shuttling company, researchers and freight between South Africa and Antarctica on behalf of White Desert. The aircraft, with registration quantity 9H-TQZ, was inbuilt 1997 and used to fly for Singapore Airways (1997-2004) and later Emirates (2004-2013), earlier than becoming a member of the Hello Fly fleet.
6. FIRST CLASS CABIN & SEAT
The ex-Emirates A340 jet supplied 267 seats in First, Enterprise, and Financial system Class, however passengers have been seated within the premium cabins: the 42 Enterprise Class seats have been assigned to White Desert employees and company who had booked a daytrip to Antarctica, whereas White Desert’s camp company have been seated within the First Class cabin, which had 12 seats in a 2-2-2 structure.
All cabins had a classic look because the aircraft nonetheless featured the previous Emirates cabin design. In First Class, this meant a lot of gold and wood trims, becoming Emirates’ signature fashion. The First Class seat, whereas previous, was nonetheless very comfy however nonetheless dated in comparison with at this time’s First Class seats. A monitor – displaying the flight route – was hidden within the seat’s middle armrest whereas the seat’s different armrest held the tray desk, the seat controls and a handheld distant. The angle lie-flat seat allowed a recline to a close to 180 levels.
Throughout this flight, a 3-course dinner was served shortly after takeoff. The menu learn as follows:
- Starter: Carpaccio of beetroot & tomato with whipped cheese mousse and tapenade
- Principal course: Charred beef fillet topped with wild mushrooms, served with potato dauphinoise and sautéed inexperienced beans
- Dessert: Greek lemon cake with a ardour
Parts have been a bit on the small aspect however the meal was respectable nonetheless (though the meals paled compared to the high quality delicacies supplied at White Desert’s flagship camp Echo in Antarctica).
A pill with a small collection of films and documentaries was supplied, in addition to noise cancelling headphones. The inflight journal was changed by a flyer making ready us for our touchdown in Antarctica. The Airbus A340 was not geared up with WiFi.
9. LANDING IN ANTARCTICA
One hour previous to touchdown, the captain turned the cabin temperature down and passengers have been required to alter into their Antarctic package. The final a part of the flight was extraordinarily scenic as the large plane slowly descended over the magical Antarctic panorama on its option to Wolf’s Fang runway, a blue ice runway which is privately operated by White Desert. Arriving at Antarctica really felt like an emotional expertise that I had by no means felt earlier than throughout all my years of touring across the globe.
There aren’t any airports on the White Continent, however there are 50 touchdown strips and runways, Wolf’s Fang being certainly one of them. The runway is known as after Wolf’s Fang Mountain (Ulvetanna in Norwegian), one of the iconic mountains in Antarctica, which dominates the runway’s skyline. Extremely, it takes 22 hours to groom and put together the runway previous to a jet touchdown and White Desert has a devoted crew on website which consistently displays the runway. Wolf’s Fang is designated a C Degree “airport, which implies that solely extremely specialised crew can fly there as a consequence of difficult circumstances.
Upon touchdown all passengers have been welcomed by White Desert’s floor crew in Antarctica (which counts greater than 80 employees members from greater than 17 nationalities). A 4×4 Arctic truck took us from the runway to Echo camp, a 15 min drive amongst staggering lovely iced landscapes. To be continued …