For many, the geographical point most associated with Christmas is the North Pole. While you won't find air service to the north pole, an increasing number of flights pass nearby. One of the closest, at least it if were to follow a geodesic (great circle) path, is Emirates' flight from their hub at Dubai to San Francisco, which on a great circle path would fly just 109 nm from the north pole.
For various reasons, flights whose great circle paths pass near the north pole often fly more southerly routes. Often this is due to winds, though it can also be due to polar temperatures being too cold to be sure that fuel will stay liquid. In the case of the Boeing 767 (and 757), avoiding the pole is necessary because the aircraft is not certified to fly north of 87°N, nor south of 87°S.
Emirates' DXB-SFO route began with a Boeing 777-200LR, which has no certification restrictions preventing it from flying over over either pole. It was upgauged to a 777-300ER, and at the start of this month was upgauged again to an Airbus A380.
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Karl L. Swartz.
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