I recently read that in the old days (early 60s) the planes that crossed the Equator line would do some celebration when this happened. Cabin crew would give some pastries, and even liquors, to the passengers.

Is this still common in commercial flights?

While researching I found information about the Line-crossing ceremony, but this is an initiation rite (...) that commemorate a sailor's first crossing of the Equator.

  • 8
    Early 60s.. no in-flight entertainment systems, people needed to do something to entertain themselves. May 31 '16 at 8:36
  • 3
    Sadly the legend that a certain buggy version of the F-14 software caused the plane to roll upside down in "celebration" of being in the southern hemisphere, is probably a myth. May 31 '16 at 12:01
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    @SteveJessop the F-22 had a systems issue when it crossed the international date line on its way to its first overseas deployment in Japan... they had to be escorted back to Hawaii by their tankers, where their systems were updated and the flights were resumed 48 hours later.
    – Moo
    May 31 '16 at 15:46
  • On a number of long flights that cross the equator, passengers are likely to be sleeping at this time. A big celebration or even an announcement would not be amusing to someone trying to sleep. May 31 '16 at 16:17
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Intertropical_Convergence_Zone "Thunderstorms along the Intertropical Convergence Zone played a role in the loss of Air France Flight 447" May 31 '16 at 21:22

I have been on flights a couple of times where the pilot made an announcement, but nothing more than that. Flying across the Equator in this day and age is a non-event, same as flying over the International Date Line or the Arctic Circle.

While it might be cool to someone who doesn't travel much, it is not unique enough to warrant a celebration (especially not free booze ;-). Back in the day, when planes didn't go as far and you had to hop from airstrip to airstrip refueling to reach Australia from Los Angeles, it was a big deal. But today planes do it in a single flight and the Equator is crisscrossed by a multitude of flights every day.

  • 2
    Indeed! In the book I am reading, the guy describes a New York -> Buenos Aires flight that took 18 hours, stopping in Washington, Miami, Panama, Lima, Santiago de Chile and Buenos Aires.
    – fedorqui
    May 31 '16 at 9:44
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    As an Aussie, I'd find it particularly exciting to fly over the Arctic Circle, but as for the Equator, I fly across that pretty much whenever I leave Australia :P
    – Tim Malone
    May 31 '16 at 10:27
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    I first crossed the Equator on a flight from Singapore (1 deg N) to Jakarta (a few deg S), in a plane full of business passengers. I'm fairly sure I was the only person on the plane excited by the event! May 31 '16 at 10:49
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    I've crossed it many times and not even once had anyone mention it. I always kept a look out though, hoping to see that big dotted-line in the sky.
    – Lyall
    May 31 '16 at 12:46
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    @Lyall you're looking the wrong direction - it's floating across the ocean ;) May 31 '16 at 15:01

On a KLM flight from Buenos Aires to Amsterdam in January 2015 they performed an "equatorial baptism" - this is when a crew member is crossing the equator for the first time and a ceremony is performed.

I can't remember exactly what they did (it was a large plane so I couldn't see what was going on for most of it) but the captain dressed up as Neptune (with a wig and plastic trident) and marched down to the rear of the plane with the crew member being "baptised" and some other members of the crew.

After doing the ceremony near the back of the plane they returned back to the cabin.

  • Funny, someone dressed as Neptune pouring water on others is something I have seen as an "arctic circle baptism" ceremony.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 18 '18 at 7:06
  • Wouldn't one expect KLM crew to be based in Amsterdam, so the crew member in question would have already crossed the equator on the outbound flight? Apr 18 '18 at 9:24

Indeed, I received a certificate from KLM when I crossed the equator in 1965.

It is in Dutch and it reads:

Bij deze verklaren wij, dat Jacobus Bernardus Augustinus Korten, per vliegtuig PH-DCE Thomas Alva Edison van de Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij op 9 April 1965 de evenaar heeft gepasseerd.


We hereby state that Jacobus Bernardus Augustinus Korten, by plane PH-DCE Thomas Alva Edison of the Dutch Royal Airline, has passed the equator on 9 April 1965.

  • 2
    Oh, that's a beautiful document to have!
    – fedorqui
    Apr 18 '18 at 8:19

Definitely, no. Source: lots of own trips crossing it.

That might be the case of ships though. But how many people is still crossing the Equator line in a ship? Not many.

  • Plenty of ships do
    – neo
    May 31 '16 at 21:26
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    @neo: much fewer than before. May 31 '16 at 21:40
  • 2
    @QuoraFeans But your comment implied that nobody is doing it, hence neos comment.
    – Jay Carr
    May 31 '16 at 21:50
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    I would dare say the number of ships crossing has not decreased that much, as a vast amount of freight, crude oil, etc still travels by sea and the number of cruise ships vastly outnumbers what was around in the past.
    – user13044
    Jun 1 '16 at 0:53
  • 1
    Fair comments but the size of the crew on modern freighters is very small so that's still not that many people.
    – Relaxed
    Apr 18 '18 at 7:07

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