Alaska Airlines Adjusts Plane’s Departure To Ensure Passengers See Total Eclipse

It’s not everyday that we get to see a total solar eclipse, and it’s not everyday that an airline will adjust a flight’s path and departure time just so passengers can get the best possible view of said solar eclipse. But that’s exactly what Alaska Airlines did for a flight from Alaska to Hawaii today.

Alaska Airlines announced it has changed the departure time for Flight 870 from Anchorage to Honolulu so that the plane’s passengers could see the entirety of the eclipse, which occurs when the moon completely covers the sun’s solar disc.

The flight change is actually a year in the making, according to the carrier, which says the deviation was precisely planned with the help of astronomers and veteran “eclipse chasers.”

Joe Rao, an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium, discovered that Flight 870 would intersect the “path of totality” during its regular trip, but would miss the totality by about 25 minutes.

Rao, who will be one of the 163 passengers on the flight today, called Alaska Airlines, and the carrier decided to move the flight back 25 minutes.

“It’s an unbelievably accommodating gesture,” Mike Kentrianakis, solar eclipse project manager for the American Astronomical Society, who will also be on the flight, said in a statement. “Not only is Alaska Airlines getting people from Point A to Point B, but they’re willing to give them an exciting flight experience. An airline that’s actually talking to their people – and listening! That’s customer service at its best. It’s become personal.”

While the flight time has already been pushed back to 2 p.m. local time, Alaska says it will decide the exact flight path today in an attempt to find the “most efficient route.”

“We recognize our customer’s passions,” Chase Craig, Alaska’s director of onboard brand experience, said. “Certainly we can’t change flight plans for every interest, but this was a special moment, so we thought it was worth it. Now we have a plane full of customers who will be treated to a special occurrence.”

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