Six ‘Time Travel’ Flights Departed in 2018 and Landed in 2017, Ringing in the New Year Twice

A small, but impressive, group of East-bound flights took off during the calendar year of 2018 and landed in 2017, thanks to time differences around the globe.
Mario L. Major

We have all at some point in our lives felt the thrill of what time travel would be like. Whether it’s inspired by popular film and television productions like Back to the Future or Star Trek, or H.G. Well’s novel The Time Machine, or even a moving photo from a different era in history, time travel is a subject that occupies the collective conscience in one form or another.


One example is Hawaain Airlines flight HA 446, which flew from Auckland, New Zealand to Honolulu, Hawaii. The flight involved an 11:55 p.m. takeoff time on December 31st, just 5 minutes shy of New Year's, ending with the plane touching down at 9:45 at the final destination, also on the same date. By all calculations, this was an accurate and logical outcome. However, within that magical window that exists between the close of 2017 and the official beginning of 2018 on January 1st—helped by the time distance of 23 hours that exists between the two cities—something unexpected happened.

There was a 10-minute delay to the takeoff in Auckland, which means that technically the plane left in 2018 and arrived in 2017! Washington, D.C.-based television journalist Sam Sweeney picked up on the glitch and shared it on Twitter:

Twitter Ads info and privacy This flight was not the only one which boasted of time travel. FlightRadar24, recognized as the most popular flight tracker in the world, also shared information on similar time-travel feats achieved by 6 Taipei flights bound for Canada and the United States.

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The Benefits of Shifting Time Zones

The International Date Line is an imaginary—yet fixed—date line that extends North-to-South between the two poles and serves the purpose of dividing the world by calendar days. In a truly bold statement reflecting the power of commerce and communication in the digital age, this past decade witnessed two countries’ changing their time zone in relation to the Line in the hopes that it would produce more favorable trade relations with other nearby countries. One example is the Pacific island nation of Samoa, located just 32 kilometers East of the important line, a distance which does not seem to make much of a difference.

However, with the change that took place at the end of 2011, the country went from being 21 hours behind Sydney, Australia to instead being 3 hours ahead. The country of Tokelau also made the same move as Samoa. During the planning stages before the time change happened, Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi shared the thinking behind the decision: "In doing business with New Zealand and Australia, we're losing out on two working days a week. While it's Friday here, it's Saturday in New Zealand and when we're at church Sunday, they're already conducting business in Sydney and Brisbane."

Though not the same as time travel in the sense that we know it, Samoa and Tokelau did, in fact, shift their relationship to the International Date Line. And while it may be too early to say with certainty whether or not the decision made six years ago has paid off for the two island nations, nevertheless, it's still an interesting concept.

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