Fantasy Flights: Airlines Create Holiday Memories

Fantasy Flight

Have you noticed anything special taking place at airports lately? Have there been more Santa spottings? Yes, it’s the Christmas season and airlines have been geared up for their annual Fantasy Flights.

One of the things I think airlines do really well is giving back, supporting  communities locally and around the world.   Westjet has created some incredible surprise Christmas memories for its customers.  In addition to Honor Flights for Veterans, airline employees along with local businesses and individual volunteers, including a few elves, donate their time to help make the holidays just a little brighter for children battling serious illness. I have been fortunate to be able to experience several of these events by just happening to be in an airport at the right time. Believe me, the smiles on the children’s faces outshine the holiday lights.

The History of Fantasy Flights

The first Fantasy Flight occurred in London, England in December 1991, when United Airlines donated a 727 to fly one hundred children from an orphanage to Lapland, Rovaneimi Finland for reindeer sleigh rides and a visit to “Father Christmas Village”. The success of the “Fantasy Flight” concept gradually expanded to over forty six cities, providing needy children with an experience of a lifetime.

Sun Country Airlines - Make-A-Wish Flight

Sun Country Airlines – Make-A-Wish Flight to the North Pole (Photo: Mark Tlalka)

Sun Country Airlines, based in Minneapolis, partners with Make-A-Wish Minnesota and has created a Wishes in Flight® airline donation program. With this program, Sun Country Airlines and its customers are helping grant wishes for Minnesota kids. This is the eighth year that Sun Country Airlines has hosted its December Fantasy Flight where children board a Sun Country Boeing 737, and take a “Flight to the North Pole.” Anyone who flies with Sun Country can donate miles to the program to help fly children in need to necessary hospitals or doctor’s appointments.

Snowball Express American Airlines Fantasy Flight

Snowball Express American Airlines (Photo: Snowball Express.Org)

American Airlines is involved in many charitable efforts including Snowball Express. For nine years the Snowball Express  has worked to bring  families of post-9/11 fallen military members together for five days of fun and activities in the Dallas Fort Worth area.  American pilots and flight attendants donate their duty time in order to work the charter flights which bring the children and family members to DFW.  From shows to museums, games, Wild West Rodeos, American and the Dallas Fort Worth area provide memories and friendships that can last forever.  Individuals can donate AAdvantage® miles to Miles for All Who Serve or Miles for Kids in Need. 

American Airlines Snowball Express

Flight Routes for American Airlines Snowball Express (Graphic: Snowball

One of the charities that Delta Airlines supports is  the Foundation for Aids Research (amFAR), an international organization that supports AIDs and HIV research, prevention, education and advocacy around the world. Additionally Delta supports CARE, a humanitarian organization that provides aid to the some of the world’s poorest communities. At Christmastime, at various airports, Delta also sponsors Fantasy Flights. Young cancer patients from Children’s Hospital in LA, St. Judes Hospital, Childrens Hospital of Atlanta and others have been able to celebrate the holidays with a festive flight to the North Pole. Information on donating miles to help the charities which Delta supports can be found on its Donate Miles webpage.

Fantasy North Pole Flight United

Santa Waves Goodbye (Photo: United Airlines Facebook)

2015 marks the twenty second year that United Airlines employees volunteered their time to arrange for children and their families to board flights for a special visit to the North Pole.  Held in hangars or at airport gates festively decorated with lights and Christmas trees, the children meet Santa Claus and local celebrities, receive gifts and play games for a day of fun. United supports many other charities including the Make-aWish Foundation, Shriners, Wounded Warriors, and Special Olympics. A full listing can be found on its Charity Miles page.

If you find yourself with a few extra miles sitting in your account, maybe you can help to play Santa for next year’s children who find themselves on a Fantasy Flight to happiness. A ‘flight’ away from their daily worries and cares.

North Pole

Note: Other airlines – Alaska, Jet Blue, Southwest – also have programs where you can donate to help with a myriad of charities and causes.

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