With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need

Every December, an annual Fantasy Flight on Alaska Airlines arrives at the “North Pole” to bring smiles and Christmas cheer to about 60 children, many of whom live in shelters or transitional housing.

For most of the kids, it’s their first time on an airplane – and Flight 1225 (as in “Dec. 25”) is the opening act in an exciting day that culminates in an elaborately detailed party in a space that’s been transformed into a wonderland of winter treats.

For kids who don’t have much, the special treatment provides a momentary lift this time of year – and memories to last a lifetime.

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needWhile happy spirits dominate the evening, there are many poignant reminders of the difficulty each child faces. Last year, after visiting a booth to select pajamas, one girl put on her purple PJs as fast as she could, near tears, because she’d never owned pajamas before.

Since 2008, Alaska Airlines has sponsored the Fantasy Flight in Spokane, Washington, and many Alaska and Horizon employees volunteer as the “elves” who make the magic happen.

Nonstop to the North Pole

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needThe day starts at Spokane International Airport, where each child is given a “passport” to the North Pole and a personal “elf” that takes each child under their wing.

Volunteers are required to dress in their best elf-wear and develop their individual elf history to help the kids believe their North Pole adventure is real. The flight crew usually dons Santa hats or antlers. The annual event is organized by nonprofit Northwest North Pole Adventures, and numerous companies donate jet fuel, food, toys and other items.

After passing through airport security, the children are presented with backpacks filled with school supplies. They’re greeted at the Alaska boarding area with festive music and food.

Just before it’s time to board the plane, the elves begin shouting, “We’re going home! We’re going home!” The children and elves board an Alaska jet given the call sign Santa 1, and the plane departs into the sky above Spokane.

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needHalfway through the 40-minute flight, the children are instructed to close their window shades and recite a magical chant that would allow them to enter Santa’s airspace. Minutes later, they arrive at the “North Pole” – in reality, a spruced-up hangar at the end of the Spokane airfield. It has been transformed into a glittering fantasyland of Christmas fun with decorations, games, jugglers, magicians, face painters, a Polar Express train set, and fancy sugar cookies and other sweets.

Santa and Mrs. Claus arrive, and each child gets to visit Santa and receive a gift they previously requested in a wish letter.

Memories for a lifetime

 With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in needOne year, a boy named Charlie had his head buried in his new backpack as he pulled out each item. He inspected every pen and pencil and carefully passed them to his elf. He pulled out a pair of socks, looked at them and said, “I’m going to give those to my mom.”

As the night winds down, the children gather around to hear Mrs. Claus read “The Polar Express,” the beloved story about a magical train that takes a group of children on a journey to the North Pole to meet Santa.

But first, each child gets a few more presents – a blanket, pillow and copy of the book.

“I’ve never had my own blanket before,” one little girl told her elf.

After leaning her pillow against her elf, she snuggled up for story time.

Photos by Ingrid Barrentine.

20 Comments on “With help from Santa and his elves, Fantasy Flight makes life a little brighter for children in need

  1. This is amazing! Thank you for doing this, Alaska!

  2. Y’all continue to impress me, Alaska Air. This story along with how you operate your airline and your exceptional customer service makes you our go-to airline of choice. You’re an example to other airlines! Keep up the great work!

  3. This is why Alaska is and always be the best airline in the world. it is more that dollars, it is community and heart.

  4. What a wonderful and caring tradition, Alaska Airlines.
    You are all fantastic !

  5. How I love Alaska Airlines!! So glad you are our only airline! You make me so proud to be Alaskan.

  6. Absolutely love you guys! Thank you for brightening these kiddos lives, even for a short time!

  7. What an amazing and wonderful thing to do for these children! Thank you, Alaska Airlines for your incredible caring and kindness!

  8. This story truly touched my heart. I love you, Alaska Airlines for so many things, including this and wonderful nonstop trips to Kaua’i from San Jose.

  9. I started flying Alaska Air in the 80s from Seattle to Alaska and now Tampa to Seattle. The employees are the best and wish all a Merry Christmas!

  10. Thank you for your kindness & generosity to these children….with the true spirit of Christmas shown.
    Alaska Airlines you’re wonderful!

  11. Thank you for thinking of others this holiday season.
    Simply the BEST……Alaska Airlines!!!

  12. What a marvelous, heart-warming story! Thank you for bringing so much joy to so many children. Just another reason why we love our home-town airline!

  13. You guys are the best! Thanks for making some lucky children so happy.

  14. As Chief Elf of this event, it is a humble honor to have Alaska Airlines as our flight partner! With Scott and Erik up front; Joanie, Carole, Vicki and Denise running the cabin, 57 children and 123 elves .. it was the memory ride of a lifetime! Only Alaska Airlines has the skills (and heart) to support the adventure and they’ve done it for 10 years in a row!

    From the board of Northwest North Pole Adventures, the 257 elves, and over 200 more volunteers (just elves without their glitter on) .. thank you!

    And folks, on your next Alaska Airline flight, check the seat pocket .. if you find some glitter, we left some Christmas magic for you to enjoy!

    Chief Elf Bernie

  15. As Santa says in the Polar Express, “Just remember; the true spirit of Christmas lies in your heart.” That is so true and to echo the comments by Chief Elf Bernie Claus, Alaska Airlines has the skills and heart to support such a worthy cause. Alaska Airlines also supports ‘Honor Flights’ which takes war veterans to Washington D.C. This past September I was in Arlington Cemetery when several buses with those veterans arrived on site; it was humbling to see their reactions to being there. They say that actions speak louder than words and that’s what makes Alaska Airlines different from the rest. We always encouraged our two sons to chose carefully what careers they entered and for whom they worked. How ironic that one of the biggest “kids” (our oldest son) who grew up with the Polar Express and knows “that the bell still rings for all who truly believe” … is now a pilot for Alaska Airlines in Anchorage. Kudos to every volunteer for these two wonderful activities, but even more praise for such a fine company that enables them to happen. No wonder his dream job was working for Alaska Airlines!

  16. Another reason to love and fly Alaska Airlines!

  17. Alaska airlines is like no other airlines. I call myself the official unpaid spokesperson. I fly a lot and I am a 75k gold. The team at Alaska is so much better than any other airlines I have flown….

    Well done once again

  18. I just love this. Thank you, Alaska, for giving these kids a memorable holiday.

  19. My daughter-in-law, Dawn Ellis is one of your Elves. I would be interested in helping with this or with your Honor flights in the future. Tony, a friend of my niece, from the police dept was involved with the Honor Flight program. Please contact me if you would like my help as an Elf or if you need donations of gifts. 1-509-238-5176. So glad Alaska Airlines does this. 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

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