Are there any flights that go over the South Pole, or any that have? I'm not interested in flights over the edges of Antarctica, I'm asking about crossing right over the Pole.

Are there any problems with the planes compass flying over the South Pole?

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    $\begingroup$ Related: Why does no aircraft cross directly over the pole? $\endgroup$ – chirlu Dec 15 '16 at 8:04
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    $\begingroup$ There are no scheduled flights but plenty of tour operators will fly you there. Google will help. Travel.SE would also be a good place to ask, there are folks over there who have done this. $\endgroup$ – Simon Dec 15 '16 at 8:27
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon the commercials only fly near the "beach", they never cross it $\endgroup$ – Freddy Dec 15 '16 at 10:19
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    $\begingroup$ You haven't looked hard enough. There are NZ operators who will charter for you. $\endgroup$ – Simon Dec 15 '16 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Freddy: Yes, but one answer also covers the south pole. And apart from that, it is still a related question that may interest others who find this one. $\endgroup$ – chirlu Dec 15 '16 at 22:17

Please forgive me for asking if you are a "flat earth truther". We sometimes get those numpties passing by trying to justify their theories (especially the one about Antarctica being a ringed ice wall with the military guarding it to make sure no-one learns the secret).

There have been many flights over the geographic South Pole, the first documented one being in 1935 by Lincoln Ellsworth and Herbert Hollick-Kenyon. See also the first flight over Antarctica.

Pan Am flight 50, using a Boeing 747SP, also flew over both poles.

No scheduled commercial flights over fly the South Pole since there are no great circle routes in use which do so.

Flights from New Zealand to South Africa would fly over Antarctica but no airline currently flies that route.

As to problems with the compass, modern aircraft have no problems since the primary navigation source is GPS. If you were using a compass only, as you got close to the magnetic South pole (remember, this is not even in Antarctica), the compass would become increasingly unreliable. Simply maintain a straight course though, over the pole, and the compass will become increasingly reliable. However, navigating over the magnetic poles using only a compass is the preserve of explorers and the fool-hardy.

This document contains more technical detail regarding navigation. It talks mainly about the North magnetic pole but is applicable to both.

A couple of other considerations when asking about commercial flights is the need for ETOPS certification and the need to carry special survival equipment when flying south of latitude 72 degrees which is very considerable and would require the removal of revenue seats to carry it.

There is a big difference between the nearest suitable diversion airport flying over the Arctic and flying over the Antarctic.


There are no scheduled commercial flights over south pole- in fact, there are none over Antarctica.

That said, you can fly to south pole in south pole flights. The site specifically says:

Fly to the South Pole, where all 360 lines of longitude meet and in a few steps you can walk around the world.

History comes alive as you stand at 90° South, the ultimate goal of polar explorers Amundsen and Scott.

  • $\begingroup$ @aeroalias They take the same way out they came in therefor not crossing it. Thank you for the detailed answer! $\endgroup$ – Freddy Dec 15 '16 at 10:27
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    $\begingroup$ @Freddy What exactly are you asking for? Do you want someone to fly you over the South Pole (in which case, which pole, there are 4?). The only way you can do that is to charter your own flight. There are several operators who will do this, here's an example but, this really has nothing to do with aviation. it's a travel question. Oh, and please confirm that you are not a "flat earth truther". $\endgroup$ – Simon Dec 15 '16 at 12:40
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon "flat earth truther"? First of all I was wondering why they fly over the north pole but never over the south pole (I didn't find any record). Just curious why they don't go from Australia and New Zealand to South America and Africa to save fuel? I asked it here because I thought it had something to do with magnetic south pole and the planes compass. Don't think they would be able to answer technical part of the question at the travel section. $\endgroup$ – Freddy Dec 15 '16 at 18:20
  • $\begingroup$ @Simon Now I just find it weird no one on earth ever flew over (even at high alt) and made a detailed report about it. (if it has happend I'm sure someone would have posted it by now) $\endgroup$ – Freddy Dec 15 '16 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Freddy: The actual location of cities in the southern hemisphere (there's a lot of ocean out there) means that flights don't need to fly over the south pole to save fuel. The shortest distance is called the "great circle". For a flight from say Auckland to Johannesburg, the great circle path only just touches the Antarctic coast. One that comes close would be Perth to Buenos Aires, but no airline flies that route. $\endgroup$ – Greg Hewgill Dec 15 '16 at 19:13

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