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April Eclipse Set to be ‘Single-Biggest Mass Travel Event in the USA’

Airlines and airports alike are encouraging passengers to be present for the event.

Map of the April eclipse (Photo: NASA)

A total solar eclipse across North America on April 8 is anticipated to be one of the most viewed astronomical events in recent memory and maybe ‘the single-biggest mass travel event in the USA,’ according to GreatAmericanEclipse.com. Several major cities are inside the path of the eclipse, including Mazatlan, Torreon, San Antonio, Austin, Dallas/Fort Worth, Indianapolis, Cleveland, Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Montreal. Some other cities that come close to the path of the eclipse include St Louis, Cincinnati, Detroit, and Toronto. In addition, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C., are all within 200 miles of the path of totality.

The last total solar eclipse across the U.S. occurred in 2017, and this one will have the longest totality seen in the country since 1806. According to the American Astronomical Society, totality is ‘the maximum phase of a total solar eclipse, during which the Moon’s disk completely covers the Sun’s bright face.’ The duration of totality for the eclipse is expected to reach 4 minutes 27 seconds, with some parts of Texas achieving a totality of 4 minutes 23 seconds. By comparison, the 2017 eclipse achieved a maximum totality over land of 2 minutes and 41 seconds.

Airports Opening Their Doors

To celebrate the first eclipse in the region for over 90 years, Vermont’s Patrick Leahy Burlington International Airport (BTV) is making its airfield available for eclipse viewing. The airport will offer a paying audience the opportunity to mark the occasion with live music, food trucks, and bar services starting at 2 p.m. The partial eclipse is expected to begin at 2:14 p.m. with 3 minutes and 14 seconds of totality commencing at 3:26 p.m. The partial eclipse will end at 4:37 p.m.

As previously reported by AirlineGeeks, Southwest Airlines has identified several scheduled flights that will offer passengers the best view of the event. Three Southwest flights that may give passengers ‘the greatest likelihood’ of the best view are: WN1252 departs Dallas – Love Field at 12:45 p.m. for Pittsburgh; WN1721 departs Austin at 12:50 p.m. for Indianapolis; and WN1910 departs St. Louis at 1:20 p.m. for Houston’s Hobby airport.

At the time of writing, seats were still available for sale on all three of the ‘greatest likelihood’ services. Southwest also identified a few flights that may cross the path of totality departing from airports such as Houston (Hobby), Milwaukee, Chicago, and Nashville.

For those who may not be able to make it to an area of totality on April 8, the next total solar eclipse across the contiguous U.S. will occur on Aug. 12, 2045. Other parts of the world will experience total solar eclipses in the next few years including parts of Europe (2026 and 2027), Africa/Middle East (2027), and Australia/New Zealand (2028).

John Flett

Author

  • John Flett

    John has always had a passion for aviation and through a career with Air New Zealand has gained a strong understanding of aviation operations and the strategic nature of the industry. During his career with the airline, John held multiple leadership roles and was involved in projects such as the introduction of both the 777-200 and -300 type aircraft and the development of the IFE for the 777-300. He was also part of a small team who created and published the internal communications magazines for Air New Zealand’s pilots, cabin crew and ground staff balancing a mix of corporate and social content. John is educated to postgraduate level achieving a masters degree with Distinction in Airline and Airport Management. John is currently the course director of an undergraduate commercial pilot training programme at a leading London university. In addition he is contracted as an external instructor for IATA (International Air Transport Association) and a member of the Heathrow Community Fund’s ‘Communities for Tomorrow’ panel.

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