Delta has announced a second “path-of-totality flight” for April 8’s total solar eclipse—and reassured its airborne eclipse chasers that it will make every effort to give its customers a “memorable flight experience.”

The newly announced Delta flight 1010 will depart from Dallas-Fort Worth on April 8 at 12:30 p.m. CDT and arrive in Detroit at 4:20 p.m. EDT, alongside the airline’s other path-of-totality flight, DL 1218 from Austin to Detroit, which was announced last week.

That flight sold out in less than 24 hours and saw searches for flights from AUS-DTW on Delta channels spike by more than 1,500%, prompting the airline to add a second flight to accommodate more customers after a view of the total eclipse from above any clouds. Delta flight 1010 has itself now sold out less than 24 hours after being advertised.

MORE FROM FORBESIs Delta Flight 1218 Really The Best Way To View April 8’s Total Solar Eclipse?

Flights To Totality

It’s understandable why a “flight to totality” is attractive. April 8’s total solar eclipse across Mexico, the U.S., and Canada will take place during spring weather in Texas and later in winter for states farther northeast along the path of totality. Clear skies are certainly not guaranteed for eclipse chasers on the ground.

However, there is nothing guaranteed for passengers attempting to view the eclipsed sun from 30,000 feet on a commercial airline. While they may presume to be above the clouds as totality strikes, other factors complicate eclipse flights:

  • Plane windows are not well suited for looking at an eclipse 40 degrees or more above the horizon (it will be between 50 and 63 degrees).
  • Multiple layers of the window create reflective and refracted images.
  • Take-off delays can ruin the entire experience.

However, perhaps the most concerning aspect is that the eclipsed sun will occur high in the sky behind the plane, allowing only those on the right-hand side of the plane to have any chance of straining to see the eclipsed sun.

Ideal Flight Plans

“We are engaged with the FAA on these flights, including ideal flight plans that will allow us to fly along the path of totality,” said a Delta spokesperson in an email. “Delta teams are working in lockstep ahead of these special flights, and we plan to do everything within our control to give customers a memorable flight experience, regardless of what side of the aircraft they’re sitting on.”

The airline revealed that it plans to make a series of turns to allow for views from both sides of the aircraft during these flights, though it added that this plan depends on the FAA and Air Traffic Control approval on the day of the flights.

Threat Of Delay

There’s also the prospect of a flight being delayed—and thus missing the total phase of the eclipse—which would be crushing for those flying on Delta’s original flight, DL 1218, from Austin to Detroit. That’s because Austin-Bergstrom International Airport is just outside the path of totality, so stranded passengers would miss the main event even from the ground. It will see a 99.97% partial solar eclipse—which is 0% total solar eclipse.

Not so for those on the new Delta flight 1010, which will depart from Dallas Fort Worth International Airport. At least that airport is in the path of totality. It will occur there for three minutes at 1:40 p.m. CDT—about an hour after the scheduled take-off.

No Auto-Dim Windows

One problem airborne eclipse chasers on Delta won’t have is auto-dimmed windows. Delta’s DL1010 will operate on an A321neo, which often has auto-dimmed windows. That could play havoc with watching the sky darkening as the moon’s shadow envelopes the plane, but Delta confirmed to me in an email that these are not on the A321neo—or the A220-330 being used for the DL 1218 from Austin to Detroit flight.

While there are concerns about the limitations of viewing an eclipse from a commercial aircraft—and there is certainly no guarantee of anything— Delta remains optimistic about the flight’s success. With the overwhelming response to their first flight, it’s also clear that many people are eager to witness this rare event from a different perspective.

For the latest on all aspects of April 8’s total solar eclipse in North America, check my main feed for new articles each day.

Wishing you clear skies and wide eyes.

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