Cousins Lily O’Leary (2), Carigaline Cork, Elizabeth O’Connor (4), Caherdavin Limerick, Paige O’Leary (4), Carigaline Cork and Olivia Mulcahy (4) Clareview Limerick |Picture: Arthur Ellis
THE Christmas festivities at Shannon Airport were kicked off by more than 2,000 lucky children and their parents who who were selected in a lottery to meet Santa 15,000 feet above sea-level off the West coast of Ireland.
Spirits soared and the cheers were deafening this weekend as Santa jetted in, out and around Shannon for his sixth successful Shannon flights pre-Christmas extravaganza.
The annual Santa Flights have become very much an annual fixture and one of Ireland’s best-loved, unique and sought-after tickets for the big season.
✈️Sing-along with Santa 15,000 ft into the skies, high above the clouds - no better place to sing “Jingle Bells “ today on the 1st of December #OperationHoHoHo #shannonairport #santaflights #jinglebells pic.twitter.com/VuWGDgsvrd— Shannon Airport (@ShannonAirport) December 1, 2018
The excitement was palpable all weekend from the minute the very special passengers – including many from Limerick – entered the terminal building with teams of Santa’s helpers manning the airport check-in desks.
The children were entertained by dancing elves and festive fun and games in the transit lounge to while away the minutes and manage the excitement in the hour or so before they boarded their flights.
Then onboard – many of the children getting on their first flight - there were screams of delight when Santa landed mid-flight on the roof of the aircraft.
Demand for places on the flights was only bettered by letters to Santa, with applications for tickets multiples of the 2,000 available. The much sought-after tickets allocated through a lottery system.
Day 2 of our Santa Flights is underway !— Shannon Airport (@ShannonAirport) December 2, 2018
Flight times are as follows:
09.30 am Santa Flight 1 (in the air!)
✈️10.35 am Santa Flight 2
11.40 am Santa Flight 3
✈️13.10 pm Santa Flight 4
14.15 pm Santa Flight 5
✈️15.20 pm Santa Flight 6 #OperationHoHoHo #Shannonairport pic.twitter.com/cSYPnXAtnm
A €1 per seat lottery application fee was applied for entry with a flat €1.50 booking fee and all profits from the day are going to Shannon Group’s designated charities for 2018 – the Share a Dream Foundation and the Clare Crusaders.
As expected, the flights were a magical experience for the children and their parents, including Eimear Mulcahy from Clareview in Limerick.
“I came here with my sister and we had my two daughters, a friend of theirs and two nieces from Cork. What a great way to start the Christmas season. It was great fun. We loved every minute of it, from the moment we walked into the airport,” she said.
“Everyone was so great to make such a fuss of the kids. The kids had great fun beforehand, got onto a flight, saw Santa and then got to see the fire-truck at the end, which finished it off perfectly. It's great to think that it’s all in aid of charity too. It’s great credit to Shannon Airport,” she added.
Andrew Murphy, Shannon Airport, Managing Director said it’s been a fantastic weekend. “Our Santa Flights have become a real highlight of the Christmas season. It was a busy two days but full of fun. From our perspective it’s just great to be able to spread a bit of Christmas cheer and put smiles on so many children’s faces,” he said.