Holidays

The most important flights for Santa and his team

While we’re all staying home, it’s good to know Santa and his team are going to be flying around the world.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is helping out.

The FAA says that on Christmas Eve Santa Claus and his reindeer-powered sleigh will have special operating authority to conduct interstate air-cargo-delivery services directly to rooftops throughout the United States.

The FAA is also giving Santa a special commercial space license. This clears Santa for a crewed mission to the International Space Station. He’ll travel there in his StarSleigh-1 space capsule powered by the Rudolph Rocket.

“We are pleased to help Santa safely navigate through the National Airspace System to bring his unique and universal brand of goodwill and joy to children and adults of all ages. Even to those orbiting the Earth,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson.  “Let’s face it, 2020 was a difficult year and we all could use some special holiday cheer that only Santa can deliver.”  

Getting toys under trees is Santa’s traditional goal on Christmas Eve. But the FAA said that this year Santa will give priority to flights carrying COVID-19 vaccines and other critical cargo.

But don’t fret.

The FAA says that with the aid of a flight plan taking advantage of simplified air routes and NextGen satellite navigation, Santa will still deliver all his gifts by Christmas morning.  

Want to follow Santa on his journey? (Or impress a small child that you have that power?) NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command has a nifty NORAD Tracks Santa site that follows Santa around the world in real-time.

Airport Crossword Puzzles & TSA Nutcrackers

Use your words

We spotted a few airports celebrating National Crossword Puzzle Day on December 21 with their very own aviation-themed puzzles.

The holiday marks the day the first-known printed crossword was published in the New York World newspaper.

Give these puzzles from Mineta San Jose International Airport (SJC) and Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) a try. And let us know which ones we missed.

And just for fun: TSA Nutcrackers

Two TSA officers working at A. B. Won Pat Guam International Airport (GUM)  dressed up these 14-inch-tall nutcrackers in TSA uniforms. Their outfits include insignia patches, hats, airport security badges and, of course, face masks.

How to join Finnair’s virtual reality flights to visit Santa

What does Santa do after he finishes all that hard work delivering presents on Christmas Eve?

He’ll go up the last chimney, climb into his sleigh, and make his way home to Rovaniemi, Lapland.

That’s the Christmas story Helsinki-based Finnair, “Santa’s official airline,” believes. And they’re backing it up with a series of eight virtual reality (VR) flights to visit Santa once he’s home.

Finnair’s VR flights are open for booking and take place between December 25th and December 30. The cost is €10 per person, or about $12. And all the profits will go to UNICEF’s fund to help children adversely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The immersive 360-degree virtual reality flights are created by Finnish VR studio Zoan and will be viewable on VR headsets, mobile phones, or laptops.

For these special flights, Finnair is giving all travelers virtual business class seats. And from that vantage point, it should be easy to look out the window and take in the starry skies and incredible views of the northern lights.

The VR experience also promises flight soundscapes, festive decorations, and, for those who have been nice and not naughty, a “glimpse of a familiar festive figure sitting in one of the other seats.”

Who could that be??

Once the virtual flight lands in Rovaniemi, Finnair says travelers will be able to virtually cross the Arctic Circle and visit Santa in his cabin.

If you show and he find him sleeping after his long night out, please don’t wake him up.

More holiday cheer – and dances – from airports and airlines

If we were traveling around this month, we’d certainly be spending a lot of time in airport gift shops buying Christmas chocolates and other treats.

Some of that chocolate would even make it home and into nicely-wrapped gift boxes.

Instead, we’re home and keeping an eye on what airports and airlines are doing to be festive and still keep us safe during an unusual travel season.

SFO Airport is charming us with lights, music, and dancing

We love the giant light switch in this holiday message from SFO and we’re ordering one installed in our home office.

We also love this ‘put your mask on’ music video starring and produced by some incredibly talented people who work at SFO airport.

SFO’s mask video is a good pairing with the safety dance video Alaska Airlines put together that we featured here yesterday. That video also stars in-house talent.

Wreath-decorating contest at O’Hare Airport

It looks like they had so much fun with the pumpkin decorating contest at Halloween that now 13 shops at Chicago’s O’Hare Airport are competing in a wreath-decorating contest.

The public is invited to weigh in on which is best.

Voting is open through December 25, 2020.

O’Hare Airport also has some great themed holiday trees.

More to come..

Let’s see how airports are celebrating the holiday season

Holiday travel is going to be different than usual this year. But airports are still going to be celebrating with decorations, music, and special events.

Here’s a sampling. We’ll bring you more as we gather them up.

Many airports kicked off the Hanukkah celebration with a show of lights.

There are elves making the rounds at some airports. We’re not sure how they get past the security checkpoints, but they do.

And we’ll be keeping watch over holiday trees and other decorations that go up in airports. We hope Santa will be making appearances too.

More soon. Feel free to send us your pictures of airports at the ready for the holidays.