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On December 8, 2018, we were a part of United Airlines’ Fantasy Flight. Matthew Adams form United Airlines shared his take on the day. Check it out!

As the aircraft made its descent, the passengers pulled their window shades shut and closed their eyes. With IAD Flight Attendant Jim Coakley leading the chorus, the children on board followed him in reciting the phrase that would open an enchanted portal, allowing them to enter the “North Pole”:

“I believe in Christmas magic; I believe in Christmas magic; I believe in Christmas magic.”

By the time the wheels touched down and everyone’s eyes opened, they had been transported from Kansas City, Missouri, to Santa’s holiday village, a realm of fun and festivity, created by our employees at MCI for the station’s first Fantasy Flight in years.

The youngsters were amazed by the world they saw – a land of Disney princesses and Star Wars stormtroopers and Ewoks and lightsaber battles. A place inhabited by Wonder Woman, Iron Man, Captain America and Batgirl, all flanked by tail-wagging comfort dogs.

One attendee, Karis, could hardly contain herself, running and skipping through the crowd with a wide smile on her face. Her dad, Kyle, had surprised her with this trip to the Fantasy Flight at the invitation of Shadow Buddies and Hope Kids, the two Kansas City-area organizations that partnered with our team to bring the airport wonderland to life. He, too, had a tough time hiding his grin as he watched his daughter take in the sights. Elsewhere, amid all the excitement, a young man named Wyatt waited patiently in line to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, thinking over what he was going to say, visions of Legos dancing in his head.

The day had already been memorable for him. Not only was it Wyatt’s first visit to the “North Pole,” it was his first time on an airplane, and what a flight it was. Once in the air, the mischievous “Elf Dolly,” better known as EWR Flight Attendant Aimee Doll, got a snowball fight started in the aisle, and the cabin quickly filled with the sounds of caroling, laughter and jingling bells.

Meanwhile, in the galley, Dolly’s fellow elves, Flight Attendants Stacey Perkins, Kara McDermott, and Nicole Webb, planned the next round of songs and games. Up front, ORD Boeing 737 Captain Charles Newton (“Captain Chuckles”) and ORD 737 First Officer Gerry Boeckmann (“First Officer Barney”) navigated the plane north, keeping everyone apprised as they entered reindeer airspace.

On the ground, the MCI team, led by General Manager Donise Mitchell and Airport Operations Supervisor Kim Papineau, with the help of Shadow Buddies founder Marty Postlethwait and her volunteers, had put in three months of work and a 14-hour day of decorating to make sure the “North Pole” was properly outfitted. There were pizzas and sweets, cookie-making and jewelry-making stations, a model train running through a Christmas tree forest and presents stacked chimney-high.

“There’s so much enthusiasm not just from our employees, but from retirees and family members, too,” Kim said. “It’s been an amazing group effort.”
Standing nearby, Donise nodded in agreement. “It brings us all together to show what our company is all about, what we’re all about in Kansas City,” she said. “My heart is happy and full today.”

Marty and the Shadow Buddies and Hope Kids teams were likewise thrilled by the return of the Fantasy Flight to MCI, saying it had been a long time coming for kids in the area.

“This event provides a lot of hope, not only for the kids who are sick, but for their siblings and parents,” said Marty. “More than anything, I’m going to remember their smiles, the way their eyes lit up, especially when they came off the plane. It gave them an extra-special, powerful feeling of love and encouragement, hopefully to know that tomorrow might be a brighter day.”

I believe in Christmas magic, indeed.

Check out more pictures from the event here!