For some lucky Qantas passengers, a closer look at the supermoon.

Australia’s travel ban may have no end in sight, with borders mostly closed until the middle of next year.

But about 180 lucky people got to take a Qantas Airways flight on Wednesday — to 43,000 feet above Sydney and back — to get what were possibly the best views of the “super blood moon.” (Tickets sold out in three minutes.)

The rare astronomical event of a supermoon and a total lunar eclipse happening at once meant that moon appeared bigger than usual while turning a blood red color against the night’s sky because of its position in the Earth’s shadow.

Airlines, hit hard by the slump in travel during the pandemic, have offered flights to nowhere over the past year, giving passengers a chance to get out to town without defying any travel restrictions.

After staying at home for months on end and having to cancel trips to Thailand three times because of the pandemic, Maruschka Loupis, a communications officer from Sydney, said that getting on a B787 Dreamliner flown by Qantas was a thrill. She and her husband decided to splurge on two business class tickets, costing 1,499 Australian dollars each, or about $1,200, for the chance to see the supermoon up close. Or, well, eight miles closer than from the ground.

The moon was so vivid that it reminded her of the kind of solar system modules that students brought to science class, said Ms. Loupis, 66. The Milky Way looked like spilled oatmeal strewn across the sky. “It was not something you see from the Earth like a normal person,” she said.

The Qantas pilots worked with an astronomer from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, Australia’s national science and research agency, to design a path that would offer passengers optimal views. As the flight climbed above clouds and atmosphere pollution, flight attendants served cosmic cocktails and Milky Way chocolate bars.

An unexpected treat was catching a glimpse of a shooting star, Ms. Loupis said. After getting through the pandemic, it was easy to know what to wish for: Good health for many years to come.


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