While many people brave Drake Passage and cruise to Antarctica from South America, an increasingly popular option is to just fly there directly. So-called fly-cruises eliminate the waste of time and gut-wrenching experience of the Drake and instead deposit adventurers onto the continent after a short two-hour flight. Typically these flights leave from Punta Arenas, Chile, and are perfect for people tight on time or who just don’t want to go through the pain of the Drake.
There’s something exhilarating about seeing ANTARCTICA listed on the big boards in the airport, and the flight there is an experience in itself. Antarctica XXI, the company that has provided these trips for years, uses BAE 146-200 planes, and their interiors are as comfortable as any other commercial plane in the world. There are even flight attendants who hand out drinks and snacks during the flight. Landings occur at Frei Station on King George Island, but be prepared for last-minute changes. Flights can only take off from Chile if weather conditions in Antarctica are adequate. Many times, delays of hours or even a day or two are common.