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United Fantasy Flight takes students from Sky Harbor to the North Pole

Posted at 11:07 AM, Dec 07, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-07 16:34:51-05

It is a flight so festive that it will take passengers from the Valley of the Sun to the frigid wonderland of the North Pole.

For more than two decades, United Airlines has chosen a little group of believers, children from Title One schools and military families, on a plane ride to see 'Ol Saint Nick. 

"Welcome to our flight to the North Pole," exclaims one United employee over the loudspeaker in Sky Harbor's Terminal 2. 

A magical plane sits on the tarmac and it is fully decorated and glowing red and green inside the cabin. 

The gasps and giggles of excitement cannot be contained as these kids start boarding, many of whom who have never been on a plane before. 

As the put their seat belts on, the plane takes flight into the Valley sky and transports the kids to the North Pole in just 30-minutes. 

When they disembark from the plane, they are taken to a tinsel wonderland and greeted by snow, Santa, and some unique elves: Arizona State University students, police, and fire officials. They are meant to be positive role models, beyond Santa Claus. 

"... To let them walk around with an ASU student, it really gives them that impact because now it's like brother... sister - it's really something that can be tangible for them when they're thinking about their education," says David Sweeney, a 4th-grade teacher at Cartwright School.

Hidden among the festive fun is a little helping hand, as well as items these children need.

"Gym shoes to you and I seem like a novelty, but some of them really need them," says Suzie Cabo, Managing Director of Community Affairs with United Airlines. "And it's a necessity, so you wrap it up kind of in the fun and the magic and it's not seen as kind of a charitable donation for them, but it's seen as this real holiday, magical experience." 

For more information on the Fantasy Flight, click here.