Jumping times zones for New Year’s is not uncommon. Travelling around the world and reaching your destination the day before you departed happens every single day, but doing it on New Year’s, taking you back not just to the previous day and month, but to a different year, is as close to time travelling as you can get.
Plenty of airlines take advantage of this fantasy journey and offer flights that depart somewhere in east Asia on 1 January and land in the Americas on 31 December the previous year, giving passengers the chance to experience two New Year’s Eves. Well, three if you consider they also pass through a midnight timezone at some point during the flight.
One of the best scheduled such flights this year, United Airlines flight UA200, was supposed to take off from the US territory of Guam, in the Western Pacific, at 7:35 am local time on 1 January 2024 and land in Honolulu, Hawaii, at 6:50 pm local time on 31 December 2023. It was the perfect plan, allowing travellers to properly celebrate New Year’s Eve in Guam without having to be at the airport before midnight, but giving them enough time to reach a party in Honolulu for a second countdown. “Time travel is real”, United wrote in an Instagram caption about the flight.
Unfortunately, passengers hoping to have the perfect New Year’s Eves had their plans ruined by an over 6-hour delay. While the original arrival time in Honolulu was early enough to allow for some delay without travellers missing their second celebration, flight UA200 only managed to take off from Guam at 1:49 pm. The reasons for the long delay are yet unknown, but the flight only made it to Hawaii at 12:34 am on 1 January, just missing travelling back in time to 2023.
“Great idea, too bad it got delayed! I was supposed to be on this flight. Double new year isn’t happening anymore”, an X user commented on United’s post about the time travelling flight. While the airline offered rebooking assistance, other users were quick to point out that rebooking the flight completely missed the point of celebrating New Year’s Eve multiple times.
Travellers booking with other airlines were more in luck. All Nippon Airways’ flight NH106 departed Tokyo at 12:48 am local time on 1 January 2024 and landed in Los Angeles at 5:12 pm local time on 31 December 2023. Cathay Pacific’s flight CX872 also successfully departed Hong Kong a little after 1 am on 1 January and landed in San Francisco at 8:22 pm the previous year. Although these two kept their promises and ensured passengers had their double New Year’s Eve celebrations, the time of departure meant that the first countdown took place at the airport.