Fantasy flight

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Fantasy flight
Type Wish granting
Focus Medical, homeless
Origins Commercial aviation employees
Area served
Flight to nowhere, tarmac
Method Aviation, dream
Key people
Airlines, hospitals

Fantasy flights are charity flights operated by a host airline for locally disadvantaged and terminally ill children to fly to a fictitious destination.

The destination is often the North Pole, the home of Santa Claus' workshop. Employees and locals often including firemen, police officers, and local church groups generally donate their own time and labor to decorate either a gate area or a dedicated terminal area. Employees often don costumes including magicians and Santa's helpers known as elves to entertain the children. Various gifts and take-away bags often accompany the Christmas and holiday seasons' theme. Often, local companies and charitable organizations are sponsors. Host airlines donate venues (gate areas), aircraft, fuel, and fellow sponsors. The cost is virtually always free.

Fantasy flights differ from angel flights in that fantasy flights

  • are not to reach a practical or far away destination,
  • generally have no compelling practical need (i.e. specialized medical treatment) for transportation,
  • are initiated by the parents' outreach to the sponsoring organizations instead of by a referring health professional,
  • and may include those without medical conditions due to the customary lack of pressurization and duration


Commercial aviation[edit]

The following commercial aviation operators are sorted by airlines' names' alphabetical order.

Aerolineas Argentinas conducts fantasy flights between Buenos Aires' two main airports, Ministro Pistarini International Airport and Jorge Newberry Airport. These flights typically last around one hour, and are flown on jet aircraft. The children enjoy a view of the city of Buenos Aires on these flights.[citation needed]

Air Labrador operated a fantasy flight with a Santa visit on board to the plane on the tarmac while taxiing.[1]

Alaska Airlines is the official airline of the non-profit charity Spokane Fantasy Flight[2] which organizes an annual fantasy flight at Spokane International Airport, its 12th being in 2009.[3]

American Airlines is a primary sponsor and official airline of Snowball Express,[4] a non-profit charity for the children of fallen military service members. American Airlines provides the pilots, flight crews, aircraft, and fuel coordination. In its 2006 inaugural year, the experience[5] flew children to Los Angeles International Airport for 4 days of an all-expenses paid experience in Southern California. In 2008, 6 chartered aircraft made 20 stops[6] across the United States with celebrations at each.[7][8] In 2009, the experience was in Dallas, Texas with hosts the Mesquite Championship Rodeo, Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band, the Sheraton Dallas Hotel, Southfork Ranch, the Dallas Cowboys, Cowboys Stadium, the Dallas Convention Center, American Airlines Center, and the Dallas Mavericks.[9][10][11] In 2010, Dallas again hosted Snowball Express[4] adding hosts Terry Fator and Six Flags Over Texas. In 2011, host cities included Little Rock, Arkansas.[12]

British Airways operates a special day return trip for kids with life-threatening illnesses from Glasgow Prestwick Airport to Rovaniemi Airport, Finland,[13] located near the Arctic Circle, to ride snowmobiles, take husky dog sled rides and meet Santa and his reindeer.

Continental Airlines operated Operation Santa Claus to airlift children's toys to those in need[14] and an annual North Pole Fantasy Flight which has operated at its Technical Operations hangar at Orlando International Airport,[15][16][17] Austin-Bergstrom International Airport,[18] San Antonio International Airport,[19] Cleveland Hopkins International Airport annually for 22 years,[20][21] Newark Liberty International Airport[22] the New England Air Museum in Windsor Locks, Connecticut[23] with Connecticut Children's Medical Center.[citation needed]

JetBlue Airways held its 3rd annual "Wings for Autism"[24] event at Logan Airport on April 6, 2013[25] with staff from United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Massachusetts State Police, The Charles River Center, and Massport in support and an on-board experience also with United Airlines.

Silverliners - a group of former Eastern Airlines fight attendants - organize a Fantasy Flight from Detroit Metropolitan Airport in Romulus, Michigan. Delta provides a jet and current staff members to pilot and serve as ground personnel, ticket staff and flight attendants. 2016 was the thirty-first year the Silverliners organized the Fantasy Flight.[26]

Southwest Airlines operated its fantasy flights at Baltimore Thurgood Marshall Airport with the Johns Hopkins Children's Center for years.

Sun Country Airlines operated fantasy flights at Minneapolis-St Paul International Airport.[27]

United Airlines operated fantasy flights at Washington Dulles Airport on 2002-12-07,[28] 2003-12-06,[29] 2006-12-02,[30] and 2008-12-16;[31][32][33][34] Phoenix International Airport[citation needed][30][35][36] with the Thomas J. Pappas School; Dulles International Airport;[37] Chicago O'Hare International Airport;[30] Miami International Airport;[38] LaGuardia Airport;[39] Las Vegas International Airport;[40] Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport on 2000-04-25;[41] San Francisco International Airport;[citation needed] Los Angeles International Airport;[3] Ministro Pistarini International Airport;[3] Sydney Airport;[3] and for the first time in 2006, Denver International Airport, where its East Red Carpet Club was decorated and hosted the attendees with clowns, elves, and musicians. Airport employees funded the operation which includes a plane taxiing around the airport and presents. United did so again in 2009.[3] United Airlines is the former official airline of Spokane Fantasy Flight.[3] United held its last Fantasy Flight in Phoenix on 2009-12-04[36] albeit through a non-profit organization's organizing and funding. United also promotes the program officially as a part of its United Employee Volunteer Program.[42] In 2016, United flew fantasy flights from 11 different airports serving 5000 children and their families.[43]

US Airways operated its fantasy flights at LaGuardia Airport[44] with Shriners Hospitals for Children for over 12 years[45] and at Phoenix International Airport.[citation needed]

Winnipeg International Airport, Skyservice Airlines, and sponsors[46] operated "north pole express", annual fantasy flights for children from (a) chosen local public school(s) with a takeoff, flight,[47][48] pilot's announcement of a Santa sighting,[49] and an onboard visit from Santa.[50] This event won the Airports Council International 2009 award for special events.

Helicopter operators such as the San Jose Police Department Air Support Unit[51] also operate fantasy flights, namely by landing with Santa on board.


Railways including the Valley Railroad Company,[52] the Steam Railroading Institute,[53] Branson Scenic Railway[54] (in a one-time promotion for the film The Polar Express), and Newport Dinner Train[55][56] operate fantasy rides.


  1. ^ "Flight to the North Pole". 2007-12-17. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  2. ^ "Spokane Fantasy Flight". Retrieved 2009-12-25. 
  3. ^ a b c d e f Baskas, Harriet (2009-12-23). "Now boarding: Flight 1225 to North Pole – Well-Mannered Traveler-" (Web). Spokane, Washington: MSNBC. Retrieved 2009-12-25. 
  4. ^ a b "Snowball Express". American Airlines. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  5. ^ "American Airlines Snowball Express 2008". Fantasy flight's channel on YouTube. 2009-02-10. Archived from the original on 2016-04-15. Retrieved 2011-12-16.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Snowball Express Sponsored by American Airlines" (PDF). Pensacola Gulf Coast Regional Airport. 2008-12-15. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  7. ^ "Families of Fallen Heroes Invited to Sky Harbor for Special Event". Phoenix, Arizona: Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. 2009-12-09. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  8. ^ "SMF and American Airlines Host Snowball Express" (PDF). Sacramento, California: Sacramento International Airport. December 2009. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  9. ^ "Snowball Express Comes to Texas". Dallas, Texas: American Airlines. 2010-12-09. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  10. ^ Roff, Peter (2009-10-27). "Children of Fallen Troops Find Solace in Snowball Express" (Blog). US News and World Report. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  11. ^ Roff, Peter (2009-10-27). "Children of Fallen Troops Find Solace in Snowball Express" (Blog). US News and World Report. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  12. ^ "Snowball Express 2011". Dallas, Texas: American Airlines. 2011-12-03. Retrieved 2012-04-17. 
  13. ^ Greenaway, Graham (2008-12-18). "Christmas treat for Prestwick Airport passengers" (Blog). West Sussex, UK: Flight Hotel Reservations. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  14. ^ "Continental's Claus". Newark, New Jersey: Continental Airlines. 2006-01-01. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  15. ^ "Flight 1225 North Pole". Orlando, Florida. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  16. ^ Lower, Kim. "Flight 1225 to the North Pole". Florida Hospital Orlando. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  17. ^ "Flight 1225 To The North Pole". Florida Hospital Orlando. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  18. ^ "NORTH POLE COMES TO AUSTIN-BERGSTROM INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT; HOLIDAY SPIRIT INVADES BARBARA JORDAN TERMINAL". Austin, Texas: Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. 2000-12-05. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  19. ^ "Woman behind annual North Pole flight is stepping down". San Antonio, Texas: San Antonio Express-News. 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  20. ^ Kollar, Caitlin (2007-12-08). "Children treated to special Fantasy Flight to North Pole". WKYC-TV. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  21. ^ Sims, Damon (2008-12-14). "Continental flight to North Pole transports young patients, parents". The Plain Dealer. Retrieved 2008-12-15. 
  22. ^ Strunsky, Steve (2011-12-15). "Newark airport's 'Christmas Fantasy Flight' spreads holiday cheer for ill children". The Star-Ledger. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  23. ^ McMahon, Charlene (2004-12-23). "Fantasy Flight brightens the holiday for young CCMC patients". Wethersfield, Connecticut: Wethersfield Post. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  24. ^ "Making Travel Possible For Families Affected By Autism". Logan Airport: JetBlue Airways. 2013-04-02. Retrieved 2013-04-08. 
  25. ^ Frischling, Steven (2013-04-06). "Wings for Autism at Boston Logan Airport … Wow … Just WOW!". Boston Logan Airport: BoardingArea. Retrieved 2013-04-07. 
  26. ^ News-Herald, Dave Gorgon For The. "Fantasy Flight to the North Pole makes a difference in the lives of children". News-Herald. Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  27. ^ "North Pole "Flights" for Children Seeking Santa". Mendota Heights, Minnesota: Adfero Group. 
  28. ^ Kennedy, Sue (2002-12-06). "FANTASY FLIGHT 2002 TO THE NORTH POLE SCHEDULED FOR TAKEOFF DEC.7TH United Airlines and Children’s Hospice International team up for the 12th year" (PDF). Alexandria, Virginia: Children's Hospice International. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  29. ^ "CHILDREN’S HOSPICE INTERNATIONAL AND UNITED AIRLINES EMPLOYEES PARTNER FOR 13TH "FANTASY FLIGHT" HOLIDAY EVENT" (PDF). Alexandria, Virginia: Children's Hospice International. 2003-12-01. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  31. ^ Armstrong, Ann (2008-12-16). "This may be their last Christmas, but it will be a memorable one, thanks to the employees of United Airlines, Children's Hospice International, and event sponsor Sandy Spring Bank" (PDF). Alexandria, Virginia: Children's Hospice International. 
  32. ^ "Fantasy Flight.flv". YouTube. 2008-12-16. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  33. ^ Elizee, Arlyn (2008-12-13). "Fantasy Flight to The North Pole". Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  34. ^ Twarowski, Christopher (2008-12-14). "Fantasy Flight at Dulles Delivers Holiday Magic". Chantilly, Virginia: Washington Post. Retrieved 2011-12-16. 
  35. ^ Pfleger, Ryan (2007-04-14). "Fantasy Flight, A Holiday Charity for Kids!". YouTube. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  36. ^ a b "United Airlines Fantasy Flight – It's Time to Fly". Phoenix, Arizona. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  37. ^ "United Airlines Dulles Employees Make the Holidays Bright for Children and Adults" (News release). Chicago, Illinois: United Airlines, Reuters. 2007-12-05. Retrieved 2010-12-01. 
  38. ^ Ciccarone, George (2008-10-14). "Fantasy Flight". ABC News. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  39. ^ "United Airlines Flies Children From La Guardia to the 'North Pole'; Fantasy Flight Brings Holiday Spirit into the Lives of Seriously Ill and At-Risk Children.". Business Wire. 2000-11-29. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  40. ^ Leong, Grace (2002-12-02). "United commitment to Vegas children no fantasy". Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas Sun. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  41. ^
  42. ^ "United Airlines – Volunteerism". United Airlines. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  43. ^ Long, Eric Lupher, Connor (2016-12-14). "United Airlines 'Fantasy Flight' takes kids to the North Pole". 7NEWS. Retrieved 2017-04-11. 
  44. ^ "A Visit to the Northpole". Newsday. 2007-12-04. 
  45. ^ "Now Boarding For North Pole". New York, New York: New York Times. 1998-12-13. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  46. ^ Staff Writer (2009-07-08). "Winnipeg Airports Authority wins special event award". Winnipeg: Winnipeg Free Press. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  47. ^ "North Pole Express!". Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  48. ^ "Oficial North Pole Express Winnipeg Video". 2009-02-23. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  49. ^ "The Pilot Spots Santa". 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  50. ^ "Santa Arrives on the North Pole Express!". 2008-12-19. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  51. ^ "Cops Care Cancer Foundation". Moffett Field, Sunnyvale, California. 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  52. ^ "The North Pole Express at the Essex Steam Train". Essex, Connecticut: Valley Railroad Company. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  53. ^ "Owosso – 1225 Steam Engine Train and Diesel – November – Shiawassee Street Crossing _0001.wmv". Owosso, Michigan: Steam Railroading Institute. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  54. ^ "THE POLAR EXPRESS BRANSON SCENIC RAILWAY INITIATING SERVICE TO THE NORTH POLE!". Branson, Missouri: Branson Scenic Railway. 2009-09-30. Retrieved 2009-10-18. 
  55. ^ "The Polar Express" (Web). Newport, Rhode Island: NewportNOW. 2009-11-09. Retrieved 2009-12-25.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  56. ^ "December in Newport" (Web). Newport, Rhode Island: Historic Newport Inns. Retrieved 2009-12-25.