via Getty Images

Question: if an airplane flies 2,000 miles in one direction, then turns back and returns 2,000 miles to the same airport it left from, do the passengers onboard receive 0 frequent flyer miles?

The passengers aboard Qantas Flight QF27 sure hope not, after spending 10 hours aboard a flight to nowhere this morning. The plane, which departed Sydney en route to Santiago, Chile, was forced to turn back towards Australia five hours into its flight to avoid the thickening ash cloud over the southern cone of South America.

It wasn't the only flight turned back or diverted this morning. Online flight trackers show that a half-dozen other planes bound for the Chilean capital were also sent elsewhere to avoid the mess caused by Calbuco Volcano, which has been erupting with Jurassic-era fury since Wednesday.

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Billowing clouds of fire and ash have thickened the skies over the Chilean capital for the past two days, like some overcooked Hollywood FX from a disaster film starring Pierce Brosnan.

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The eruptions have been accompanied by a series of earthquakes, prompting government workers to stare at laptops and phones.

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The volcanic explosion has not claimed any victims, but has led to thousands of evacuations and dozens of school closings within a 20-kilometer radius of the mountain. President Michelle Bachelet did a flyover of the affected area yesterday and met with families. The government has insisted there is no threat of shortages due to the natural disaster, and warned that any vendors who engages in price gouging will be prosecuted.