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This airline just sold out a round-trip flight to ‘nowhere’

Published May 13th, 2021 11:53PM EDT
supermoon flight
Image: NASA

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The airline industry has had a tough couple of years. The Covid pandemic absolutely destroyed plans for travel, whether it be for work or leisure, so airlines found themselves with empty seats and, even when they could get a flight off the ground, planes had to be sparsely filled in order to ensure social distancing mandates were met. With that in mind, you might think that a special “flight to nowhere” program by Australia’s Qantas airline sounds like a gimmick to make a quick buck, but it’s not. In fact, the trip was so highly anticipated that it sold out in just two-and-a-half minutes after it went up.

So, what could be so exciting about a trip that takes off and lands at the same airport without ever actually going anywhere? It’s all about the Moon. The May supermoon is expected to be a stunner, and Qantas is offering people an opportunity to see it from a birds-eye view. Eager stargazers rapidly plunked down up to over $1,100 for a chance to see the glowing sphere from an altitude of over 40,000 feet.

Skywatching as a hobby has seemed to pick up steam in recent years. Perhaps it was the Great American Eclipse of 2017 that sparked the interest of a generation of new stargazers, or maybe it’s just that consumer-level telescope technology is more affordable than it’s ever been, but something has led to a boom of space enthusiasts and that’s great news for science.

Supermoons are one of the easiest celestial phenomena to enjoy. It’s basically just a full moon that happens at a certain point in the Moon’s orbit of Earth. Supermoons appear slightly larger and brighter than your average full moon, and that makes them particularly eye-catching. From the ground, they’re worthy of a long, thoughtful stare and perhaps a photo or two. From the air? Well, I’m not sure, but I bet it’s even better.

As CNN reports, the airline partnered up with an actual astronomer to determine the flight path that would best show off the Moon’s brilliance on the evening of May 26th. The pricey flight doesn’t go anywhere but up and then back down, but tickets started at around $400 USD for economy seats all the way up to $1,160 for business class. Of course, since you’re not going up for a long flight, being in business class might not really matter all that much, but window seats are obviously a high priority.

This might sound like a silly thing to drop hundreds of dollars on, but it’s actually a pretty awesome way for stargazers to catch a glimpse of the moon in a way they’d never be able to from the ground. The fact that an airliner can fly above a lot of the cloud cover that might obscure the view of people down below ensures that those on the flight will have a great view.