01 Jan 2000
Passengers and crew on Cathay Pacific flight CX888 from Hong Kong to Vancouver were among the first people in the world to experience the new millennium - albeit for only a few minutes.
CX888, a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, departed from Hong Kong International Airport at 1:42pm Hong Kong time on Friday 31 December with approximately 120 passengers on board. The aircraft then flew into 1 January 2000 at a point just west of the International Dateline (longitude 180 degrees) over the mid-Pacific Ocean.
A few minutes later, it flew over the International Dateline and back into 1999. The aircraft is scheduled to arrive in Vancouver at 8:55am local time giving passengers plenty of time to prepare for a second and more lasting celebration on terra firma.
Before the flight departed, Captain Malcolm Lewendon said: "It's quite exciting to make a little piece of history like this. But most of our passengers will probably sleep through it."
The only people who could have beaten the Cathay Pacific flight into the new millennium were those on any other aircraft which were in front of it or on boats which were stationed close to the International Dateline at midnight. It is also possible that people may have been visiting one of the tiny atolls located east of Fiji around which the International Dateline juts out to the east.
Cathay Pacific, based in Hong Kong, operates a fleet of 62 wide-bodied aircraft and last year carried more than 10 million passengers. The airline operates 45 passenger flights a week across the Pacific from Hong Kong to North America.