Alaska Airlines Changes Flight Path for Astronomers to View Eclipse

Alaska Airlines Helps Astronomers on EclipseAlaska Airlines gets a big high-five.

The airline is making somewhat of an unprecedented move of actually changing their flight path so a dozen astronomers on board can view the upcoming total solar eclipse.

From the Alaska Air blog:

When the sun and the moon and the Earth align this week, an Alaska Airlines jet is planning to arrive in the right place at the right time to catch the total solar eclipse.

Tuesday’s rendezvous over the Pacific Ocean is not luck, but a precisely planned equation. The calculations began a year ago. The only variable was the plane.

In window seat 32F, Joe Rao will be one of the dozen astronomers and veteran “eclipse chasers” among the 163 passengers onboard, gazing out oval windows as the moon blocks the sun for nearly two minutes.

He’s an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium (where astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is director). About a year ago, Rao discovered that Alaska Airlines Flight 870 from Anchorage to Honolulu would intersect the “path of totality” – the darkest shadow of the moon as it passes over the Earth.

But the flight’s normally scheduled departure time would be 25 minutes too early, missing the grand spectacle.

Rather than attempt to move the sun or the moon or the Earth, Rao called Alaska Airlines.

Alaska decided to move the plane.

The astronomers are delighted by the gesture:

“It’s an unbelievably accommodating gesture,” said Mike Kentrianakis, solar eclipse project manager for the American Astronomical Society, who will be in seat 6F. “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.”

Of course all the other passengers on board can check out the eclipse too. 🙂

Very cool move on Alaska’s part. 🙂

More HERE.