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Delta's special total solar eclipse flight sold out in 24 hours

The sun is shown in the first phase of a total eclipse in this photo taken in August 2017 from Grand Teton National Park outside Jackson, Wyo.
George Frey
Getty Images
The sun is shown in the first phase of a total eclipse in this photo taken in August 2017 from Grand Teton National Park outside Jackson, Wyo.

A total solar eclipse — when the moon passes between the sun and Earth, completely blocking the face of the sun — will be visible across North and Central America on April 8. For people in the contiguous U.S., it will be 20 years until their next opportunity to see one, according to NASA.

Some airplane passengers will have the chance to experience the eclipse in the sky April 8, Delta Air Lines announced. The special flight — number 1218 — is scheduled to travel from Austin, Texas, to Detroit from 12:15 p.m. CT until 4:20 p.m. ET "for umbraphiles to be able to spend as much time as possible directly within the path of totality."

"This eclipse will last more than twice as long as the one that occurred in 2017, and the path is nearly twice as wide," said Warren Weston, Delta Air Lines lead meteorologist.

NASA shares more on its website about how the 2024 total solar eclipse is different than the 2017 eclipse.

The Delta flight will utilize an aircraft with large windows — an A220-300 — and will also be timed to give passengers the best chance of safely viewing the eclipse at its peak, the airline said.

Although flight 1218 sold out within 24 hours, Delta passengers on several other April 8 flights will also have prime eclipse-viewing opportunities and are encouraged to bring protective viewing glasses.

  • DL 5699: Detroit (DTW) to White Plains, N.Y. (HPN), departing at 2:59 p.m. ET
  • DL 924: Los Angeles (LAX) to Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW), departing at 8:40 a.m. PT
  • DL 2869: Los Angeles (LAX) to San Antonio (SAT) departing at 9 a.m. PT
  • DL 1001: Salt Lake City (SLC) to San Antonio (SAT) departing at 10:08 a.m. MT
  • DL 1683: Salt Lake City (SLC) to Austin, Texas (AUS), departing at 9:55 a.m. MT

Southwest also previously announced several scheduled flights that have the greatest likelihood of providing a good view of the eclipse:

  • SWA 1252: Dallas (DAL) to Pittsburgh (PIT), departing at 12:45 p.m. CDT
  • SWA 1721: Austin, Texas (AUS), to Indianapolis (IND), departing at 12:50 p.m. CDT
  • SWA 1910: St. Louis (STL) to Houston (HOU), departing at 1:20 p.m. CDT

During the last total solar eclipse in 2017, Alaska Airlines also offered a similar special flight with a view above the clouds.

According to NASA, it's safest to watch a total or partial solar eclipse through solar viewing glasses or a handheld solar viewer, except during the brief total phase of a total solar eclipse.

Passengers aboard the Delta solar eclipse flight will be given special safety glasses.

The path of totality next month will run from Mexico through the U.S. and into Canada. Viewers outside of the path of totality will see a partial eclipse.

In the U.S., the eclipse will be visible for several minutes between 12:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. local time, depending on location and time zone.

But don't worry if a flight isn't in your plans. Fred Espenak, a retired astrophysicist from NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, says the best way to watch a total eclipse is from the ground with a cloud-free sky.

"Viewing an eclipse from an aircraft is a good choice if there is a good probability that clouds with block the view from the ground," he told NPR.

"From the ground you can look in every direction and get the full experience of totality," he said. "From a plane you are limited to looking though a small plane window, plus the noise made by the plane."

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: February 23, 2024 at 12:00 AM EST
An earlier version of this story stated the eclipse happens next month. The eclipse is April 8.
Diba Mohtasham