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Flying to Antarctica versus Doing the Drake Passage Both Ways


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I am asking this for a friend who is thinking about doing Antarctica.  When we did it. we did not have the option of flying one way and taking the Drake Passage the other way.  They asked me for a recommendation on flying versus going by ship.  It would seem to me that you could have your trip time on the continent reduced if the planes could not make it to Antarctica.  Also, if they could not make it out of Antarctica because of weather, your plans to get home would be messed up. 

 

My questions are -

 

What happens if the planes can't get to Antarctica?

 

What happens to your reservations to get home if the planes can't get you out of Antarctica?  Do you have to allow for extra days just in case?

 

How often does this problem happen?

 

DON

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If your flight down is delayed by a day or two, you’re usually out the day or two of the expedition. On the way back, most itineraries typically return to Punta Arenas at least a day before the end of the scheduled itinerary. If there’s bad weather on the forecast, they’d probably try to fly back early, but I would plan to fly out late on that last day. Even sailing the Drake, there have been cases where ships were delayed (or the port was closed due to wind), so I always try to book an afternoon/evening flight, plan an extra night, or book a flexible ticket.

 

Since most of the fly-the-Drake trips budget in an extra day on either end for weather issues, they’re not all that much shorter than sailing the Drake.

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take the drake x 2.  As Kaisatsu said, if your flight is delayed, you lose those days in Antarctica.  You could lose your whole trip if flights are grounded for a week.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Posted (edited)

During our "fly the drake" expedition in 2015, we left by plane from Punta Arenas to King George Island on the scheduled date and time. At the end of the expedition, heavy fog rolled over King George Island. For the next 2.5 days, we would be on standby for disembarkation but the planes could still not depart Punta Arenas (with the next guests) as the fog was still present. Around 2am on the third day, we were awakened with news the planes would arrive around 6am. When we arrived in Punta Arenas in the early afternoon, Quark provided a hotel room for us to use until our evening flight departure. 

 

While waiting on board, Quark allowed guests free use of satellite phones to modify travel arrangements. That said, phone service was not great. As we made our continuing flight reservations through Quark, we informed Quark over satellite phone that we would forego Iguazu Falls (we would have been 4 days off schedule) and just return back to the US. Quark took care of all flight changes and we were ultimately reimbursed by our travel insurance for trip interruption. Note that those guests that had made continuing travel reservations independently had a very challenging time arranging any itinerary changes from the expedition ship over a poor phone connection. Many had to wait until they returned to Punta Arenas. 

 

I'm told this doesn't happen very often. We are scheduled for a similar Antarctica trip in 2023. Once again, we will arrange our flights through Quark. Expedition company documents will describe an established number of days that the departure flight to King George Island must take off - after which the trip is cancelled. In our situation, the guests on the late arriving plane lost three days of their Antarctica trip.

 

My travel blog describes this trip (https://travelscrivener.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-day-in-punta-arenas.html).

 

Bob

Edited by ReturnCruiser
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49 minutes ago, ReturnCruiser said:

During our "fly the drake" expedition in 2015, we left by plane from Punta Arenas to King George Island on the scheduled date and time. At the end of the expedition, heavy fog rolled over King George Island. For the next 2.5 days, we would be on standby for disembarkation but the planes could still not depart Punta Arenas (with the next guests) as the fog was still present. Around 2am on the third day, we were awakened with news the planes would arrive around 6am. When we arrived in Punta Arenas in the early afternoon, Quark provided a hotel room for us to use until our evening flight departure. 

 

While waiting on board, Quark allowed guests free use of satellite phones to modify travel arrangements. That said, phone service was not great. As we made our continuing flight reservations through Quark, we informed Quark over satellite phone that we would forego Iguazu Falls (we would have been 4 days off schedule) and just return back to the US. Quark took care of all flight changes and we were ultimately reimbursed by our travel insurance for trip interruption. Note that those guests that had made continuing travel reservations independently had a very challenging time arranging any itinerary changes from the expedition ship over a poor phone connection. Many had to wait until they returned to Punta Arenas. 

 

I'm told this doesn't happen very often. We are scheduled for a similar Antarctica trip in 2023. Once again, we will arrange our flights through Quark. Expedition company documents will describe an established number of days that the departure flight to King George Island must take off - after which the trip is cancelled. In our situation, the guests on the late arriving plane lost three days of their Antarctica trip.

 

My travel blog describes this trip (https://travelscrivener.blogspot.com/2015/01/a-day-in-punta-arenas.html).

 

Bob

 

I read your magazine article on your Falklands / S Georgia trip.  I did basically the same trip a year later w Quark.  Your article is excellent.  We did have a bit higher winds than you had on the trip.  At Drygalski Fjord we had 100 knot winds which was sort of fun.  I have also done Antarctica but w Hurtigrutin doing the Drake Passage both ways instead of flying.  On the way back, we encountered a force 10 gale.  In enjoy rough seas so they did not bother me.  

 

I do feel sorry for the people who do one of the trips that cover the Falklands, S Georgia and Antarctica.  Too many sea days and not enough time at any of the destinations.

 

DON

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