Supermoon eclipse, May 26 2021: Qantas passengers get sky-high view of supermoon eclipse

From staying up all night to camping out on rooftops, people go to extreme lengths to catch a glimpse of a supermoon, particularly when it comes with a total lunar eclipse.

After flying 180 people over the Pacific to see the phenomenon, it's safe to say Qantas, and those aboard its novelty flight on Wednesday night, beat most in their efforts to view the event.

It took a record three minutes for all seats on the supermoon scenic flight to be snapped up. Economy fares sold for $499, premium economy for $899 and business class for $1499.

Abdullah Khurram and his wife, Idwa Ahsan, were determined not to miss out and had multiple devices on standby when the tickets were released.

"We just went 'click, click, click', refreshing every second. It was really important to us," Khurram said.

The husband and wife are veterans when it comes to specialty flights: they recently flew on chartered scenic Qantas flights to Antarctica, and on another to see the Auroa Australis.

"I hope they keep doing them, but it is expensive. I hope one day there'll be a way to open more seats so it's more accessible because everyone should be able to experience the magic," he said.

The experience began with dinner and drinks in the Qantas lounge with a serenade from TV actor and singer Hugh Sheridan. The passengers then boarded to enjoy cosmic cocktails and "supermoon cakes" on the plane.

As the total lunar eclipse started at 9:11pm, the crew dimmed the cabin lights so passengers could view the moon crossing into the darkest part of the Earth's shadow. The total eclipse lasted 14 minutes and 30 seconds, relatively short for a total eclipse because the moon only passed through a small section of the Earth's umbra. In the darkness, the Milky Way was illuminated by the moon, with some passengers saying they felt like they were among the stars themselves.


For 15-year-old Lucia Vickery, sharing the experience with her father, Andrew, was definitely worth the plane trip,

"I always wanted to be an astronomer but I'm not good enough at maths. This is about the closest I'll get and it's so exciting," she said.

"We know this will be the best view - supermoons are so often obscured by clouds from the ground."

Manmohan Mohanty was sitting in the middle section of the plane, with no clear view of the moon out the plane window. "The experience, hospitality and service is amazing, it's a shame the moon itself is a bit lacking. I didn't really realise we'd have to look out the plane window, which seems silly on reflection. I wish we in the middle had gotten more of a chance to look at it," he said.

While some passengers were disappointed their view of the moon wasn't as magnified as they were expecting, artist Justine Roche secured a business class ticket that did not disappoint, "there's nothing else like it", she said.

"Being in the stars is absolutely amazing, you just have to experience it."

Roche had booked the flight in the hope she could get some great shots of the moon but quickly realised the light on the plane and double perspex windows did not lend itself to great photography

"The photos don't matter anymore, just being here and seeing this is incredible," she said.

The flight offered those celebrating special occasions the chance to fly those they care about "to the moon and back": passengers included a couple celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary and a girl enjoying her 10th birthday.

Wednesday night's one-off Boeing 787 Dreamliner scenic flight was the latest of several novelty flights the airline launched in the wake of the pandemic. They include scenic  "flights to nowhere" and "mystery flight" day trips.

Australia will have to wait 12 years before the next supermoon and total eclipse, which will take place on October 8, 2033.

The flight operated with net zero emissions, with 100 per cent of carbon emissions offset, according to Qantas. It took off in Sydney, and began with a sweep over Sydney Harbour, before soaring above the clouds to 43,000 feet, the maximum cruising altitude of Dreamliner.

The writer and photographer flew as a guest of Qantas.

See also: Qantas puts Dreamliner on domestic flights

See also: 'Where are we going'? On board Qantas' mystery flight