Hoping you are safe and warm with people you love today.
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.
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.
Reindeers and gate access
Airports around the country continue to go all out to entertain passengers this holiday season.
Reindeers will return to the light rail station at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) on December 18 and 19.
And the SEA Visitor Pass program piloted last year will now be a permanent airport amenity. The program allows non-ticketed guests the opportunity to enter the secure side of the airport to enjoy shopping, dining, and other amenities.
The gate pass program also means non-ticketed flyers have extra time to spend with friends and family before their flight and to be there at the gate when a flight lands.
More details will be rolled out on Monday, December 16, when the program officially resumes.
We’re happy to see that gate pass programs are now officially a trend at airports.
Pittsburgh International Airport (PIT), Tampa International Airport (TPA) and Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) have gate pass programs at well.
Santa Paws, Teddy Bears and more
Elsewhere, Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) has some treats in store for holiday week travelers.
LAX has booked nine musical acts and groups, including the popular TSA Choir, to perform at various terminals and the LAX-it pick-up lot throughout December.
On Friday, Dec. 20, LAX employees will host an arts and crafts activity for kids at the Tom Bradley International Terminal Children’s Playground from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Special guests will include “Santa PAWS” from the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) Program therapy dogs.
And on December 25, Los Angeles Airport Police officers, spouses and family members will be in various locations at LAX handing out teddy bears, candy canes and tree ornaments to children.
Holiday decoration or what?
And here’s a holiday ‘decoration’ we spotted early Friday morning this week at the Geneva Airport in Switzerland.
Not sure if this character just had a really bad night or what…
Stuck at The Airport is continuing coverage of Santa sightings at airports.
We are also sharing updates on what airports are doing this year to make things merry.
So today we bring you this update from London’s Heathrow Airport.
To help parents with kids asking lots of questions about how Santa does what he does, Heathrow has installed “magical” periscopes in Terminals 2 and 5.
The periscopes allow children (and adults) to check in on what Santa is up to as he and his team get ready for the big night.
Heathrow says the periscopes offer a 360-degree view of elves in action at Santa’s the satellite workshop, which is conveniently located right under Heathrow (!).
Scenes include Santa’s Toy Factory, the Department of Wrapping and the Mail Room.
Heathrow Airport is going all out this holiday season to make travelers feel welcome.
The day before Thanksgiving, passengers from a handful of flights arriving at Heathrow from various U.S. cities got a surprise at the baggage claim.
Before checked bags showed up, baskets of fresh-baked pumpkin pie came down the line.
Spot Santa at the airport? Send us a photo.