Where do I start?
Photo courtesy British Airways
If time weren't an issue, you could choose between taking a boat or a plane or use a combination of the two. But, since planes are definitely faster, that's what you should use. A Boeing 747 aircraft cruises at about 560 mph (901 kph, or Mach 0.84). However, the Concorde cruises at 1,350 mph (2,172 kph, or Mach 2) -- that's about two and a half times faster than a 747. In November 1986, a British Airways Concorde flew 28,238 miles -- an around the world trip -- in just under 30 hours.
In 2003, before the Concorde was retired, the cost of a flight from London to New York cost about $5,100 one way. Even though chartering a Concorde for your trip would probably cost several million dollars -- for the benefit of this question, we'll assume you have the money and that the Concorde is still flying.
We've established that traveling a certain way will give us more time to work with, so the route will move east to west. You will start on Antarctica and fly to the Australian continent and them on to Asia. From there you will travel to the European continent and move to the continent of Africa. After that, it's on to the South American continent, with your final flight taking you to North America. The actual journey, from country to country, is as follows:
- McMurdo Station, Antarctica to Christchurch, New Zealand
- Christchurch, New Zealand to Bangkok, Thailand
- Bangkok, Thailand to Paris, France
- Paris, France to Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
- Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso to Caracas, Venezuela
- Caracas, Venezuela to Dallas, Texas
It turns out that the most difficult leg of the journey to plan is the first flight. Although there are more than 20 dedicated landing strips on Antarctica, they are mostly gravel or ice encrusted runways and would not accommodate a Concorde. The U.S. Air Force and the Royal New Zealand Air Force travel to and from a research area known as McMurdo Station and Christchurch, New Zealand. The weather can make take-offs and landings pretty difficult. So difficult in fact, that some flights from Christchurch to McMurdo Station are called "boomerangs" because they have to turn around mid-flight due to inclement weather. As you would imagine, the duration of flights varies depending on the weather, but the average flight takes between 6 and 7 hours. McMurdo Station and Christchurch observe the same time -- so let's say you take off from McMurdo at 10:30 a.m. -- you'll arrive in Christchurch at 5:00 p.m.