In plane view: Tickets to watch total solar eclipse at 30,000 feet sell out

File photo of a total solar eclipse from March 9, 2016, in Belitung, Indonesia. The Associated Press

Space enthusiasts were quick to snap up tickets for an upcoming special flight offered by Delta Air Lines that is designed to give passengers “as much time as possible directly within the path of totality” during the total solar eclipse on April 8.

This is be the last total solar eclipse viewable from Canada and the contiguous United States for 20 years, according to NASA. These rare celestial events occur when the moon passes between the sun and the Earth, completely blocking out the face of the sun.

Delta Air Lines hand-picked an Airbus plane with “extra-large windows” for the special flight, which will depart from Austin at 12:15 p.m. CT and land in Detroit at 4:20 p.m. ET. The timing of the flight has been designed to “give those on board the best chance of safely viewing the solar eclipse at its peak,” according to a press release from Delta.

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Of course, no guarantees can be made on the weather or decisions made by air traffic control that could impact passengers’ viewing experience and the timing of the flight. Fortunately, American carriers see much fewer flight delays than Canadian airlines, according to a report last year.

Unfortunately for people interested in viewing the total eclipse from 30,000 feet, the flight is already sold out. Fox Business reported that all the tickets had been purchased a day after the special flight was announced.

Screengrab of the Delta Airlines website showing that a special flight to view the total solar eclipse in the path of tolality on April 8, 2024 is sold out.

This year’s eclipse will cross through Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador, during which time several cities and towns will go completely dark for a few minutes during the day. This is the first time since 1979 that a total solar eclipse will pass through Canada.

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This image from the NASA Eclipse Explorer website shows the path of the April 8, 2024 total solar eclipse over North America. An estimated 44 million people live inside the180-kilometre-wide path of totality stretching from Mazatlán, Mexico to Newfoundland. NASA via AP

A solar eclipse that occurred on Aug. 21, 2017, was dubbed the “Great American Eclipse” by some media outlets but its path of totality narrowly missed Canada.

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

The impending eclipse has generated considerable attention given its rarity. Typically, a total solar eclipse occurs roughly every 18 months, but for a given location the time between eclipses can span centuries. For Kingston, Ont., specifically, it’s been nearly 700 years.

Click to play video: 'Kingston will be one of the best places to view the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8 2024'
Kingston will be one of the best places to view the Total Solar Eclipse on April 8 2024

“It’s one of those once-in-a-lifetime things that you know you might not be able to get to experience again,” said Ilana MacDonald, outreach co-ordinator for the Dunlap Institute for Astronomy & Astrophysics at the University of Toronto.

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While tickets for the special eclipse flight are all sold out, Delta revealed that a number of their other normally operating flights will also offer “prime eclipse-viewing opportunities,” due to their timing and flight path.

These include flight 5699 from Detroit to New York, flight 924 from Los Angeles to Dallas, flight 2869 from Los Angeles to San Antonio, flight 1001 from Salt Lake City to San Antonio and flight 1683 from Salt Lake City to Austin.

“Don’t forget your protective viewing glasses if you’re on these flights,” Delta advises.

Click to play video: 'Total solar eclipse safety'
Total solar eclipse safety

Delta Air Lines managing director Eric Beck said the eclipse flight was the “result of significant collaboration… from selecting an aircraft with larger windows to determining the exact departure time from Austin and the experiences at the gate and in the air.”

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“Thanks to teams across the company, the idea of viewing a total eclipse from the air will become a reality for our customers,” Beck added.

— With files from Global News’ Saba Aziz

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