Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good flight!

A Senior receives the gift she asked for from "Santa's Helper", a WestJet employee.
250 lucky, unsuspecting passengers aboard two WestJet flights from southern Ontario to Calgary got their holiday gift wishes granted as they flew across Canada.

Holiday miracles really do come true, even on airplanes.

If the winter holidays are about spending time with loved ones exchanging presents, then winter holiday air travel is about spending quality time with strangers, massive weather delays and countless cancellations.

Wouldn’t it be nice, and in the Christmas spirit if an airline did something wonderful and unexpected for their passengers? One Canadian airline did just that. In this case, that airline was WestJet. The Calgary-based airline transformed lives with a "Christmas Miracle" for 250 passengers.

How Santa granted their wishes.

Before boarding, passengers were invited to scan their boarding passes at a kiosk that allowed them to talk with a virtual Santa who asked them what they wanted for Christmas. Hidden cameras recorded their gift requests from toddlers to the elderly.

Items on lists included trains and dolls from the kids, but some passengers asked for things such as a snowboard, camera, tablets, a big-screen TV and a flight home to see family.

While the plane was in the air, over 150 “Merry WestJetters” acted as Santa’s elves, rushing out to stores and purchasing the items on the passengers’ lists. By the time the flights landed four hours later, the 250 unsuspecting passengers were greeted by a festive display at baggage claim and were handed gifts they had asked for.

One woman broke out into tears when she got the digital camera she asked for. A man, who asked for practical socks and underwear, seemed to be overjoyed.

A young boy receives a PC tablet from Santa,

WestJet truly cares.

"This year, we wanted to turn our holiday campaign into a tradition by doing something that's never been done before," said Richard Bartrem, WestJet vice president of communications and community relations. "Inspired by the notion of real-time giving, we wanted to surprise our guests with meaningful, personalized gifts when they least expected them. Being able to show our guests how much we care with gift-giving, a tried and true holiday tradition, resonates with WestJetters as much as our guests."

The most generous gift of all is yet to come.

This act of generosity reminds us of the true meaning of Christmas. But the airline's biggest gift has yet to come. A The WestJet Christmas Miracle was recorded and uploaded to the Westjet’s YouTube page and according to the airline, once the video hits 200,000 views on YouTube, it will start giving out free flights to families in need via its partners with Ronald McDonald House Charities. As of this evening, the video has exceeded its' goal with over 8 million views. 

Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa!

Passengers see hundreds of presents instead of luggage.

Take a look at the video, but first grab some tissues.

Nancy Burban 2013

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