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With the Falkland Islands currently just one of a handful of destinations on England’s new travel ‘Green List’, you may have wondered how to get there… InsideFlyer reader, David, is a relatively frequent visitor and kindly agreed to share his experience…
One of the places you can visit without having to quarantine on return is the Falkland Islands. Getting there can be a challenge and when you get there, the accommodation options are limited. However, if you enjoy remoteness, wildlife and open spaces, then the Falklands might just be a surprisingly good ‘green list’ option for you…
Getting to the Falklands
There are three main ways to visit the Islands for a holiday:
- Flying commercially via South America
- Flying from the United Kingdom with the RAF
- Sailing by ship
- (If you are travelling for work, for example with a polar research organisation, there may be other options.)
The commercial route by air is with LATAM. First you need to get to Santiago in Chile. From there, you can fly to Mount Pleasant Airport in the Falklands via Punta Arenas.
Santiago to Punta is approximately 3 hours for a non-stop flight, and Punta to the Falklands is approximately 1 ½ hours. The Falkland Island flights in both directions are only on Saturdays and normally need booking well in advance. The cost of a return Punta/Falklands is approximately £800.
My experience of the LATAM flights is that they are probably the best of the South American Airlines with competent and professional staff.
The non-commercial route to the Falkland Islands is with the RAF via Brize Norton in Oxfordshire. AirTanker have been contracted by the MOD to provide and operate a fleet of 14 A330 aircraft over a period of 27 years. The aircraft can be used to provide air-to air refuelling and for passengers/freight configuration with 291 personnel on board. When operated for the RAF, the aircraft are known as Voyagers.
Flying with the RAF can be an interesting experience – it can also be frustrating.
There are two scheduled flights a week from the UK to the Falkland Islands, leaving Brize Norton on Wednesdays and Saturdays. These flights have a stopover to refuel on Ascension Island. The cost for a non-Falkland Island resident is £2220 return.
The frustration for passengers is that, not unsurprisingly, the military have priority over seats on the aircraft. I have been delayed flying from Brize Norton by an urgent need to get the Royal Marines Band to the Falklands for a VIP event.
I have also been delayed on Ascension Island when an engine failed. Getting spares to remote areas can take several days. If you are delayed en-route then accommodation in Brize Norton is at a rather basic Gateway House. The accommodation on Ascension Island is poor, but the island is on the equator and very interesting to sight-see.
To use the RAF service you will need to contact the Falkland Islands Government Office Travel Co-ordinator by calling 0207 2222 542 or by emailing travel@falklands.
AirTanker advise that the aircraft configuration is 291 premium economy seats. Seats can be removed and replaced by a medivac arrangement if there is a requirement. Food is designed to sustain military personnel doing a difficult and arduous job, and there are no hot towels…
Before the AirTanker service, the RAF operated several ex-PanAm Tristars and chartered aircraft from rather obscure operators. Three engine flameouts on a very ancient 747 when leaving the Falkands, before being advised by the pilot that the aircraft would be scrapped on return to the UK, was not a good experience as we started our 8,000 mile trip over water. I understand that the service is now more reliable.
I have never travelled on a cruise ship to the Falklands but have sailed on several research ships. Unless you are a good sailor, able to endure rough seas, I would not recommend sea travel to the Falklands.
The Falkland Islands
Accommodation is limited and generally of a basic standard. The Malvina House Hotel has the best rating, but at £160 per night, is expensive. Most food has to be shipped into the islands and is therefore expensive too.
Communication via the Internet and telephone is also pricey. If you are travelling on business, then your company may be able to arrange accommodation and transport. It is 26 miles from Mount Pleasant airport to Stanley where the Malvina House hotel is sited.
Have you ever visited The Falkland Islands?- Are you tempted now it’s on the Green List?
Images: Falkland Islands Tourist Board