Saturday, August 19, 2017

Airlines Jump On Board Eclipse Excitement: ‘Cosmic’ cocktails, special flights are a hot ticket; Federal Aviation Administration gears up for surge in air traffic

The Wall Street Journal
By Susan Carey
Updated Aug. 18, 2017 5:27 p.m. ET

As millions of people move into position for Monday’s solar eclipse, some airlines are encouraging travelers to get a little closer to the action.

Southwest Airlines Co. has touted five of its flights that offer “the greatest likelihood” of catching “the best views” of the moon’s 93-minute journey past the sun on Monday, as seen in a swath of the U.S. from Oregon to South Carolina. Passengers on its Monday morning flights from Seattle to St. Louis and from Denver to Nashville, Tenn., could have some of the best views in the country, Southwest said.

The discount giant said it would offer “cosmic” cocktails and special viewing glasses to passengers on those flights, who should travel in darkness for at least a part of the daytime trip, depending on the weather.

Alaska Air Group Inc.’s Alaska Airlines is planning an invitation-only charter flight for astronomy enthusiasts and eclipse chasers. Departing Portland, Ore., at 7:30 a.m. on Monday, the plane will fly west over the Pacific first, to give the passengers a sneak preview ahead of the rest of the U.S.

The Federal Aviation Administration is expecting so much additional air traffic from private jets and smaller planes that it said has set up temporary air-traffic control towers in two cities in Oregon and two in Nebraska. The FAA also is bracing to monitor 100 high-altitude, unmanned balloons that students plan to release in 31 states to take photos of the rare event, last seen coast-to-coast in the U.S. in 1918.

Larger airlines said they aren’t marketing flights that track the eclipse’s route across parts of 14 states because they are leery of storms or air-traffic control delays that might rob fliers of the expected thrill. But accidental tourists who bought flights on those airlines may also get an extended view.

Regular flights to cities in the path of the eclipse—what astronomers call “the totality”—are also a hot ticket. Many are fully booked through Sunday as people race to terrestrial viewpoints. Flights are packed departing from those cities on Monday and Tuesday, as people return home.

American Airlines Group Inc. said its flights this weekend to Jackson Hole, Wyo., Portland, Ore., Kansas City, Omaha, St. Louis, Chattanooga, Tenn., and Charleston, S.C., are sold out. The top U.S. airline by traffic is warning fliers to check in early Monday afternoon and Tuesday to avoid long lines of fellow sky-watchers.

Delta Air Lines Inc. said it added flights this weekend to Jackson Hole, Nashville, Charleston and a few other cities to accommodate the demand. United Continental Holdings Inc. also said it is chock-a-block with customers this weekend.

Many regularly scheduled flights will also pass the path of the eclipse north to south. Some airlines said their pilots may alert passengers to the fleeting astronomical display. Airlines said the daytime darkness won’t pose any danger to pilots accustomed to flying in darkness and blinding sun. The FAA said it hasn’t issued any notices to pilots about the eclipse.

Original article can be found here ➤

1 comment:

  1. I think the elevation of the eclipse is too great for passengers to see even if they were able to lay on the deck and look up thru the porthole. Even the pilots would have to contort to see it.