United Airlines sends 'fantasy flight' to the North Pole, for kids with serious illnesses

NEWARK, New Jersey -- Volunteers from United Airlines hosted a "fantasy flight" Wednesday for kids living with or recovering from serious illnesses.

A flight from Newark Airport to the North Pole.

This magical journey began with early morning check-ins for Santa's special visitors, along with pictures and a big sendoff for United Way's fantasy flight.

The little party guests are under medical care at St. Barnabas and University Hospitals in Newark.

The kids were beaming and happy as they boarded "North Pole 1" with pilot Ken Hoffman at the helm.

"Nothing says Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, whatever you celebrate, like what they're going to experience today," said Hoffman.

United Airlines employees begin planning the fantasy flight in July, all volunteering their time for the one hour flight to, um..the North Pole.

It's a holiday party on the plane, with flight attendants and parademics turned singing elves.

The landing is to come. Gate C90 is now..the North Pole.

I couldn't tell who was having more fun, the kids or the United Airlines employees. They love this, it comes from the heart, you can tell.

"It's a nice opportunity for the kids to get out, enjoy themselves and have fun," said 'Santa'.

"It's a great experience for the kids. Some haven't been on a plane before but they had an amazing time," said one of the parents, Alexis Penn.

The elves wouldn't miss it.

"It's the best. To give back, to watch the kids' faces. It's awesome," said flight attendant Jackie Singleton.

"For me, it's amazing to land at the North Pole," said flight attendant Natalie Dorner.

Face painting, NJ PAC's student-faculty band, characters, and plenty of smiles, for the best flight of the season.

Copyright © 2022 WABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.