Thanks to United, Arizona kids take special flight to meet Santa at the North Pole

United Airlines took dozens of kids on a flight to the North Pole on Friday morning.

For 22 years, over 2,500 kids have had to opportunity to experience the fantasy flight program, and it's more successful than ever.

"This is a culmination of a year long effort and the idea is to bring a once in a lifetime experience to some really deserving kids in the valley," said Captain Bob Miller, the pilot of the fantasy flight.

Miller and Rich Vehring, City Manager, started the first fantasy flight in 1995.

On Friday morning there were 120 lucky students from two schools, one homeless shelter in Mesa, and a group of kids from Luke Air Force, each of whom has a family member currently deployed, who enjoyed a flight of a lifetime.

"The kids love it. The majority of our students have never been on an airplane, so this is the first flight for them, in addition to Santa Claus, that's the best part is getting the flight," said Diane Fernichio with Step It Up Schools, the non-profit that sponsors the flight.

The kids received shoes, sweatshirts, blankets, toys, books and a tablet.

And of course, perhaps the best gift of them all: a visit with Santa Claus.

The same non-profit that sponsors the fantasy flight also pays for all of the gifts and provides educational tools for the kids year round.