On August 21, a large majority of North America will experience the first solar eclipse in decades. In many areas of the country, people are in a mad dash to purchase solar sunglasses that are safe for viewing the eclipse.
While millions will be watching from the ground, there will also be countless people experiencing the eclipse from a plane window today.
There is a common misconception that viewing the eclipse through a window will ensure safety.
This is simply not true.
If you are going to look at the eclipse on your flight, do make sure you have the correct protective glasses. Don’t take it for granted that you have several layers of glass between you and the sun. Your retinas don’t have pain receptors, meaning the damage can be done and you may not even know to hours, if not, days later.
Should you have a window seat, do expect people to be trying to catch a glimpse. Stay calm, and don’t get upset if you middle seat wants to lean over a bit more than normal.
Some airlines caught eclipse fever as well. Here is a quick rundown of some popular flight routes that would get you the most out of the eclipse:
Although Alaska was the first airline to jump on this by mentioning their eclipse flight in June, they’re only doing one flight, and it’s by invitation only. The airline also held a contest to win two seats aboard the special charter. It will take off from Portland and fly west first, before turning back over US soil, giving passengers perhaps the longest eclipse viewing this year.
Southwest didn’t go through all of the fanfare that Alaska did, but there are multiple routes in which they will be handing out eclipse sunglasses to all those on board (all departure times are local to that airport):
WN1375: Seattle (SEA) to St Louis (STL) departing at 09:05AM
WN1368: Portland (PDX) to St Louis (STL) departing at 09:05AM
WN1969: Denver (DEN) to Atlanta (ATL) departing at 09:50AM
WN1577: Denver (DEN) to St Louis (STL) departing at 10:20AM
WN301: Denver (DEN) to Nashville (BNA) to at 10:20AM
Window seats will be on of a premium on these flights!
In addition to passing out viewing glasses, Southwest says “cosmic cocktails” will be offered, and the airline will be engaged on social media from gate to gate throughout each of the flights. (Can someone tweet us what is a “cosmic cocktail.”)