The DOT Has Asserted Jurisdiction Over Santa Claus, But Granted One-Time Permission to Deliver Toys

Santa has been granted operating authority for his Christmas Eve sleigh ride by Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao. Santa has Global Entry, and a NOTAM has gone out about his route. But what about TSA screening with all those wrapped toys?


By application dated November 1, 2017, Mr. Kris Kringle d/b/a Santa Claus (“Santa”) requests authorization pursuant to the Transportation Code (49 U.S.C. § 41101) to engage in air transportation to various points throughout the United States on the night of December 24-25, 2017.


The applicant generally asserts that he performs a vital and specialized air transportation service. In
support of the application, the applicant requests that the Department consider the following:

  1. The applicant is a citizen of the World, residing at the North Pole. As such, the applicant may be considered a foreign aircraft operator. However, the applicant points out that his work, which is peaceful in nature, should be foreign to no one.

  2. The applicant anticipates using a miniature sleigh to be powered by eight tiny reindeer, with the exception of a possible ninth reindeer with a special air navigation warning light in its nose, in the event of fog or heavy snow.

  3. The equipment to be operated has not been officially certified by the FAA or any foreign government. However, the applicant states that it has operated for centuries without any accident and is air worthy.

  4. The applicant will operate on one night only, December 24-25, 2017.

  5. The points to be served are the dwelling places of good girls and boys, as well as adults of goodwill, throughout the United States. Concurrently, similar operations are to be conducted worldwide on that same date. The applicant notes that his operating proposal will bring goodwill to countless small communities and will also serve the major transportation hubs in all regions.

  6. The applicant wishes to engage in “air transportation.” That is, the applicant intends to deliver cargo of all sizes and shapes to be carried in a sack-like container. The applicant does not intend to take on persons or property at any point in the United States.

  7. No one has contested the applicant’s fitness to perform this service. In fact, the applicant has revealed several million letters of support from children everywhere who desire that the requested authorization be granted. In these circumstances, it appears that a grant of the applicant’s request is in the highest public interest.

  8. The applicant admits that there will be some noise exposure associated with landing and takeoffs, primarily a clattering of hooves. However, that exposure will be limited almost exclusively to rooftops. The applicant is not aware of any complaints having been filed in response to this noise, and he maintains, therefore, that the proposed operations will not have any significant adverse environmental impact. Indeed, the applicant anticipates operations will significantly enhance the quality of the global environment.

  9. Mr. Kringle states that he is punctual. He claims to have a 100 percent on-time arrival record, having never failed to deliver all of his toys by Christmas morning.
    10. The applicant also disclosed that he has had some help with the arduous task of delivering packages, everywhere, to everyone, at one time. He describes that in recent years, he has been greatly assisted by the results of the wonderful invention by the two brothers from Dayton, Ohio, Messrs. Wilbur and Orville Wright, who constructed a flying machine, now refined and operating with capabilities almost as good as Rudolph, which is Santa’s lead reindeer.

  10. Finally, the applicant, aware of the heighted security concerns, states that while he has not personally packed all his bags and has not had all of them in his sights from the beginning, he can vouch for his trusted elves who lovingly prepared the contents, carefully handled the packing, and have done so for centuries without incident. Santa also says that he does not have a sky marshal aboard but will ask Rudolph to stay especially alert.

Given the totality of the circumstances, the Department has decided to grant the applicant’s request. While there is a question as to whether the proposed activities do in fact require the Department’s authorization, in that the aircraft used and the commodities carried are extremely specialized and the duration of the operation extremely short, it nevertheless appears that the scope of the applicant’s operations are so broad and the variety of commodities carried so great, that such operations constitute common carriage and authorization is prudent and warmly offered.


  1. The Department finds Mr. Kris Kringle d/b/a Santa Claus fit, as well as, jolly willing, and uniquely able to engage in the interstate air transportation for which he has requested a certificate;
  2. The Department issues to Mr. Kris Kringle d/b/a Santa Claus a certificate of public conviviality and noel-ity (PC&N) in any form he wishes; and
  3. This Order shall expire on December 26, 2017, or at such time as the applicant has navigated over the United States on Christmas, 2017, and delivered good cheer to all of its citizens.




A similar order granting Santa operating authority was issued by DOT in 2015. I understand that these orders have been issued sporadically long before that. I’ve seen the one from 1997 but I’ve been told it dates back to the Civil Aeronautics Board. Someone just has to remember to issue the order (which doesn’t always happen).

Last year UK air traffic control issued a NOTAM on Santa’s journey.

And even though Santa enrolled in Global Entry last year, he still gets patted down going through TSA.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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