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Dublin: 2 °C Sunday 15 December, 2019
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Santa is getting a head start on the festive season in the skies above Shannon Airport

The airport will be launching two days of special Santa flights for the fourth year running in early December.

Shannoin Airport Santa Flights 2015 Anne O’Malley with Lucy (5) and Grace Madigan (7) and Ami Turner (9) at the launch of the 2015 Santa Flights on 13 December last Source: Arthur Ellis

CHRISTMAS IS JUST 53 days away. Sorry. We know that may come as a rude awakening given we’ve only just put Halloween to bed.

But the festive season, and one particular bearded, jolly, gentleman, is set to hit Shannon Airport almost a month early. Or rather, he’s set to hit the airspace around the west coast of Ireland.

The airport will be running its designated Santa Flights for the fourth consecutive year on Saturday and Sunday, 3 and 4 December, giving over 2,000 Irish children the chance to meet the man himself on a 737 aircraft in the clouds above the Atlantic Ocean.

The charity flights have been running annually since 2013, when Shannon first became an independent entity, as a sort of thank-you to the region.

Shannoin Airport Santa Flights 2015 Jill Dullea with her daughters Maya (8) and Eva (5) and boarding passes Source: Arthur Ellis

And the trips have proven to be a firm favourite – there are just over 2,000 seats available for this year’s flights (at a nominal fee of €9.99, all of which goes to charity), from an applicant pool of over 50,000. Local clubs and special needs groups are likewise given first refusal should they need banks of tickets (Aoibheann’s Pink Tie and Join Our Boys being two that have benefited in recent years).

Still, at least it’s not a case of first-come, first-served – a lottery is in place to decide the winners. You can apply for a ticket to meet Santa in mid-air here, while the deadline for applications is Wednesday 9 November.

Itinerary

A joint spokesperson for both Shannon and Santa himself gave TheJournal.ie a quick guide to what happens on a typical Santa Flight.

“For starters, this wouldn’t work if it was on Ticketmaster,” they said.

People need to have time to apply, and that’s what the lottery and 9 November deadline is for.

Shannoin Airport Santa Flights 2015 Meeting the elves Source: Arthur Ellis

“It’s always a very special day at the airport. From the minute the children check in they’ll meet with some of Santa’s chief elves, not to mention Mrs Claus herself, and there’ll be all sorts of Christmas events – a disco, a puppet show, and face-painting to name a few, the transit lounge is turned into a winter playground – to keep them occupied while the aircraft is prepared,” they said.

Then it’s on to the boarding gates and onto the plane.

Flight time is about 45 minutes. Midway through the flight, the man in question will land his sleigh on the plane’s wing before coming aboard to meet the kids.

Shannoin Airport Santa Flights 2015 Layla Dormer (6) and her sister Melanie (4) with three-year-old Cillian Tuohy, all from Ennis, watching their flight being prepared Source: Arthur Ellis

“He has such a tight schedule, but he manages to make it work,” the spokesperson says.

It all sounds like tremendous fun. But, important question, what is the flight call sign for a Santa Flight?

FR SANTA of course.

Roll on the start of December.

You can apply for tickets for a Santa Flight here

Read: A new map shows where people are getting the least vitamin D in Dublin

Read: Back in time: The Galway of 600 years ago shows just how much of the city has survived

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