Onboard United’s 757 Flight From Newark to the ‘North Pole’
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As United CEO Oscar Munoz was announcing a slew of new international routes Wednesday afternoon, one of the airline’s little-known flights was just pulling up to its destination: NTP.
What’s NTP, you ask? It’s the North Pole, of course!
NTP is home to Santa Claus. And elves. And cupcakes, chicken fingers and fries. All of your favorite characters hang out there too, from Toy Story’s Woody to Winnie the Pooh.
United operated 16 routes to the North Pole this holiday season, including flights from Newark (EWR) — my departure city of choice — Denver (DEN), Los Angeles (LAX), Honolulu (HNL), Houston (IAH) and even Guam (GUM), London (LHR) and Tokyo (NRT).
The flights are as real as Santa Claus himself — on my trip, 35 local children joined a 90-minute hop onboard United 2762 from Newark to NTP, which departed from gate C120 on Wednesday morning and pulled up to C104 in the early afternoon.
For several passengers, this was their very first flight — I even overheard one nervous mom tell a flight attendant that this was her first time on a plane.
Fantasy Flights have been a United Airlines tradition for nearly 30 years, though the guests, selected by local hospitals and other health nonprofits United partners with, change from one holiday to the next.
United employees and hospital staff on the flight volunteered their time for the occasion, helping bring some much-needed cheer to children in need.
As you’ve probably realized by now, this was a “flight to nowhere,” so to speak.
We did actually take off and fly around a bit before shades were pulled and Santa cleared us for arrival (back in Newark at a new gate).
After a short taxi — again, with the window shades drawn — the festivities continued once we pulled up to the gate.
Passengers walked up a chilled jet bridge to a totally decked-out gate area, filled with energetic United employees and more volunteers.
There were Santa Claus meet-and-greets, and even some presents after lunch.
This was easily one of my most memorable United flights to date. From the flight deck to the cabin crew, everyone working our EWR–NTP leg seemed so thrilled to be there. If “regular” flight attendants had even a tiny bit of this level of energy, it’d be a whole lot more fun to fly. But, then again, not every flight can be to visit Santa at the North Pole.
If you’re looking to join United’s efforts to help out, please consider donating directly to Newark’s Beth Israel Medical Center, the nonprofit hospital participating in Wednesday’s Fantasy Flight — and here are the best cards to use if you do donate.