Imagine being on a plane that takes off a few minutes after celebrating the new year and landing hours later in another city, where it is still December 31, with a very strange feeling that you traveled to the past. How is this possible?

It is not science fiction, nor the argument of a series of mysteries and time travel. This is what happened to the passengers on Nippon Airways flight 106, which took off two minutes after 12 pm on January 1 from Tokyo Haneda Airport (HND) and landed at the Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) at 4:15 p.m., local time.

The explanation is simple and is related to the direction of rotation of the Earth and how we assign time zones. Between the coast of Asia and the west coast of the United States, along the Pacific Ocean crosses the International Line of date change.

Then, when crossing the International Line of Change of Date from America to Asia through the Pacific Ocean, the date must be advanced one day, so one day is lost. But if you cross that line from Asia to America the date should be delayed one day, so we won a day. The reason is that the Earth turns in a direction from west to east, and the time zones add one hour each to accumulate the 24 hours that means one more day.

In the case of flight 106 of Nippon Airways, it crossed the International Date Line from west to east (Tokyo → Los Angeles) and when crossing the line, the date was delayed and passed from January 1 to December 31. With 17 hours of difference between one city and another, the flight landed at 4:15 p.m. and its passengers had the opportunity to celebrate the arrival of 2019 for the second time.

It is not the only flight that left on January 1, 2019 and landed on December 31. The CX880 flight from Cathay Pacific (Hong Kong → Los Angeles) and the United Airlines flight 200 (Guam → Honolulu) also did.

And, although many passengers probably did not know they would “travel in time” in order to celebrate the arrival of the new year twice, many do take those flights expressly to live the experience.


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