WATCH: Alaska Airlines redirects flight for passengers to view solar eclipse 11,000m in mid-air

The total solar eclipse on Wednesday (March 9) as seen from an Alaska Airlines flight 11,000m in the air.
The total solar eclipse on Wednesday (March 9) as seen from an Alaska Airlines flight 11,000m in the air. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM FACEBOOK VIDEO

While tens of thousands across Asia enjoyed Wednesday (March 9) morning's solar eclipse from the ground, a rare group of people were treated to the spectacle up in the clouds.

An Alaska Airlines flight from Anchorage to Honolulu was redirected briefly so that the plane would intersect with the path where the eclipse in its totality was visible, a post on the airline's blog said.

And Flight 870 succeeded with the rendezvous, giving its 163 passengers - including a dozen astronomers and veteran "eclipse chasers" - a breathtaking view at about 37,000 feet (11,300m) in the air.

A 3½-minute video of the eclipse, recorded by astronomer Mike Kentrianakis, was posted on the Alaska Airlines Facebook page early Thursday (March 10) morning, chalking up close to 300,000 views in less than 10 hours.

According to the blog post, the redirect had been planned a year in advance when passenger Joe Rao, an associate astronomer at the American Museum of Natural History's Hayden Planetarium, discovered that the eclipse's path would intersect with the flight's path - but only if the plane departed 25 minutes later than scheduled.

 

Mr Rao called the airline, and officials decided to adjust the departure time accordingly to accommodate his request.

"It's an unbelievably accommodating gesture," said Mr Kentrianakis. "Not only is Alaska Airlines getting people from Point A to Point B, but they're willing to give them an exciting flight experience."

The duo were one of several eclipse aficionados who managed to snag a seat on the flight.

Alaska Airlines said semi-retired astronomer Craig Small was also onboard. Mr Small, who has now seen 31 total solar eclipses, had not missed one since viewing his first in 1973.