GUAM—It’s the most wonderful time of the year and United Airlines continued its annual Fantasy Flight tradition, and gifted smiles and memories to children with disabilities.
The direct service flew children—from Parents Empowering Parents of Children with Disabilities, Inc. and Guam Department of Education, Division of Special Education—from the Guam hub to the North Pole on Dec. 15, 2016.
After checking in, the children, along with their families/guardians, boarded the Boeing 737-800 aircraft and excitedly waited for their departure. At 5:15pm, flight UA 2126 pushed back from its gate and began the direct service to the North Pole. In preparation for takeoff, the United flight crew spread festive cheer by handing out customized Christmas stockings that included the United Ben Flyin’ bear to each child. Once the children arrived at the North Pole, they were merrily greeted by United employees and volunteers dressed in Christmas costumes along with the University of Guam Chorale.
“This year marks the third annual fantasy flight to the North Pole, and United is humbled to bring Christmas love and joy to the children from PEP and SPED. This event is one of my favorite events of the year because it brings the United Guam family together for a special cause. I’d like to thank all of our United employees who volunteered their time and resources to provide these children with an extra special night full of holiday festivities,” said Sam Shinohara, managing director. “The memories made tonight are priceless and you can see it on their faces.”
Over 90 attendees were treated to a number of Christmas workshops and activity stations that included Home Depot ornament making, cookie decorating, balloon art and face painting. A special meet-and-greet complete with photo opportunities with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus proved to be one of the favorite activities. A photo booth was provide. At the end of the evening, the children and their families re-boarded the plane and flew back to Guam where there was one last surprise waiting for them at the baggage claim carousel—presents containing items they wished for on their list to Santa Claus.
For 26 years, United Airlines has hosted fantasy flights at major hubs around the globe. The Guam hub, celebrating its third year, is one of 11 hubs to offer the exclusive fantasy flight in 2016. Fantasy flight is completely volunteer-driven. Locally, 120 employees and volunteers worked to organize the event, raise money for gifts, solicit donations and design a holiday experience for the children.
The “North Pole” featured holiday treats and activities that were made possible by the sponsors. Each fantasy flight passenger received Christmas gifts made possible through toy drive donations by United co-workers and sponsors. The children picked up their special presents from Santa at the baggage carousel upon their arrival to Guam.
“Our employee work group organized this event, but we couldn’t spread the Christmas cheer without the help of our sponsors. On behalf of United, I would like to thank the all the sponsors who bigheartedly partnered with us to bring Santa and the North Pole to our island in the Pacific,” said Shinohara. (United)