NEWARK, N.J., Dec. 10 (UPI) — United Airlines and a crew of volunteer employees took a plane filled ill and recovering children on a “fantasy flight” to the North Pole to meet Santa.
The airline loaded a plane Wednesday at Newark Liberty International Airport in Newark, N.J., with about 40 sick and recovering children from the local University Hospital and Newark Beth Israel Medical Center and took the group on a “fantasy flight.”
The plane landed after about an hour in the air at the “North Pole” — a section of the airport’s Terminal C decked out to look like Santa’s workshop.
Susan LaBagnara, an advanced nurse practitioner for University Hospital, said the children taking the trip suffered from conditions including sickle cell anemia, HIV and paralysis from a gun shot.
“Kids are so resilient,” she told NJ.com. “They focus more on the every day.”
United has been offering the “fantasy flights” for more than 20 years, canceling only in 2001 due to the extra security following the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
“Nothing says Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan, whatever you celebrate, like what they’re going to experience today,” pilot Ken Hoffman told WABC-TV.