Christmas is right around the corner, of course! And Santa Claus, Father Christmas, Old Saint Nick, or however else you want to call him, has his elves working overtime to finish all the presents he’ll be distributing with the help of Donner, Blitzen, Vixen, Cupid, Comet, Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, and the most famous of all: Rudolph with his nose so bright.
Once the elves have completed their work and have packed all the gifts, it is time to load Santa’s sleigh. But first, Santa Claus and said sleigh must comply with all the relevant international aeronautical regulations.
And the United States‘ Federal Aviation Agency is usually in charge of carrying out this verification on behalf of all the countries of the world. To accomplish this, a pair of inspectors travel to Santa’s workshop at the North Pole. One checks the sleigh and the reindeer (which are, after all, the sleigh’s “engines”), and may result in the addition of a few kilos’ worth of flight-safety equipment – but don’t worry, since the sleigh is magical, it doesn’t have a maximum take-off weight as do airplanes.
The second inspector ensures that Santa has his pilot’s licence in order, and since he hasn’t flown much during the rest of the year, administers a flight exam.
Once this flight test has been passed, it’s time to load the sled with the presents, whilst a NOTAM (notice to airmen) is distributed to world’s air control centers advising them of air traffic with absolute priority and permission to fly in any direction and at any altitude necessary.
In addition, NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command, a joint unit of the U.S. and Canada responsible for keeping the airspace surrounding both countries continuously monitored), each December activates a phone line (+1-877-446-6723), website (NORADSanta.org) and Apple/Android apps through which Santa’s whereabouts are tracked at all times. In the case of the phone line, during the 23 hours it remains active more than 13,000 calls are received from all over the world – a rate of ten per minute!
But although Santa’s sleigh is, as we have said, magical, Rudolph and his colleagues have to rest and regain strength from time to time. So during these layovers Santa uses other means of air transport so as not to waste time, and it’s possible to see him aboard some commercial flights, at which time he usually takes the opportunity to deliver some gifts.
On these flights, Santa meets many passengers travelling to be with loved ones over these special holidays. And the cabin crew, as well, do their utmost to make these holiday flights as magical as possible, whilst always fulfilling their primary mission: to help ensure that each flight arrives safely and on time.
So on behalf of not just our flight crew but all of our Iberia employees – check-in, boarding, handling, tarmac workers, and those who staff our administrative offices – we wish you a very Feliz Navidad and Merry Christmas 2021!