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Airline makes passengers' Christmas wishes come true
Reuters | Sun, Dec 15 2013
Toronto - A Canadian airline decided to show that Christmas is all about giving - with a result that's taken off beyond its wildest dreams.
Budget carrier WestJet gave 250 passengers boarding flights from Hamilton and Toronto, Ontario, a chance to tell Santa what they wanted for Christmas.
They spoke to Santa on a screen, and none of them expected their wish to arrive, gift-wrapped, on the baggage carousel at their destination, the airline's headquarters in Calgary, Alberta.
All departing passengers had been asked to scan their boarding passes in front of a screen on which Santa - dressed in the airline's blue instead of traditional red - inquired about their Christmas wishes. Some asked for a big TV, or Android tablets.
One boy suggested a "choo-choo train" and a man merely wished for new socks and underwear.
Most would have thought that this Santa, like many others in shopping malls, would listen politely and do no more.
But WestJet sent employees out on a shopping spree while the flights were in the air, surprising the passengers at the baggage claim area with the wrapped presents.
"No way!" cried the boy as he unwrapped the tablet he'd wished for.
Other passengers cried with delight.
The airline's video of the festive flights has had more than 19million hits worldwide on YouTube since last week.
It has turned up in Singapore too, with Facebook users sharing it.
That has triggered another round of gift-giving: WestJet had promised that if it reached 200,000 views, it would donate free flights to needy families.
Marketing experts are praising Canada's second-largest airline for its seasonal stunt.
It was inexpensive in the context of airline marketing budgets and WestJet is not spending any money running its videos as commercials - people are sharing them, free of charge.
The Calgary Sun newspaper in the airline's hometown says the report of WestJet playing Santa was its most-read online story of all time.