Flying over the Arctic in a 777

Hudson Bay. Frozen. (c) Mia BennettI’ve never been north of the Arctic Circle – until now, in a commercial airplane. From my window seat on a 14-hour flight from Newark to Tokyo, I caught several glimpses of the Arctic’s west and far east.

In between stretching my legs in place, flipping through the on-demand movie offerings, and poking at the salty reheated enchilada, I peered out the window, taking pictures of the blindingly white scenery below.

From Newark, our Boeing 777 tacked north over the Hudson Bay, which was frozen in the center.

The plane continued on a northwest trajectory, flying over Canada and then the northern coast of Alaska. We continued west over the Bering Sea. Arctic sea ice reaches its maximum extent in March of every year, so I was ableThe Chukotsky Mountains. (c) Mia Bennett. to see the ice at its height. The massive sea of white finally ended when I spied land again.

The forbidding Chukotsky Mountains rose up out of the snow, contrastingly mightily with the flat sea ice views of the past several hours. After passing over the coastline, more sea ice appeared, but in a more patchwork manner than before. The sea ice became sparser and sparser until poof! the rolling green hills of Japan appeared.

So for my economy-class ticket that ultimately took me to the classic, tropical destination of Thailand, I got a pretty good bargain, seeing as I saw thousands of Arctic square miles.


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Mia Bennett

Mia Bennett

Mia Bennett is an assistant professor in the Department of Geography and School of Modern Languages & Cultures (China Studies Programme) at the University of Hong Kong. Through fieldwork and remote sensing, she researches the politics of infrastructure development in frontier spaces, namely the Arctic and areas included within China's Belt and Road Initiative. Read Mia Bennett's articles

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