How airline industry celebrates Christmas this year

Anastasia Dagaeva
December 26, 2017

Many airlines and airports are feeling the festive spirit this year. Alaska Airlines started early, by offering priority boarding to any passengers wearing their festive jumper on Christmas Jumper Day, December 15. 

Other airlines embraced the seasonal spirit with some festive in-flight menu offerings to make a plane journey more exciting. Sweet-toothed travellers on Norwegian were offered a Christmas pudding flavoured cookie with mixed spices to have alongside their meal, while savoury fans could also purchase a festive sandwich from the in-flight menu, reports the Sun.

Singapore Airlines went even further, offering a three course Christmas dinner to all passengers. Economy flyers could have a traditional Christmas Roast and a Yuletide Log Cake to finish, whilst First Class got a Three Bird Christmas Roast and an Eggnog shot.

Emirates not only offered Christmas meals, but also a "Noel the polar bear" toy to entertain any restless young travellers. On 13 December, together with Airbus, the Dubai-based carrier put a festive spin on an otherwise standard pre-delivery A380 test flight. Over the course of five hours, the crew created a Christmas tree over Germany, reports the flight tracking service FlightRadar24. 

Airlines have also gotten into the Christmas spirit over the years with special liveries. Finnair has often decorated at least one aircraft and this year they’ve put three into their Happy Holidays reindeer special livery. 

Santa, who boasts a 1,700-year flying career, is helping easyJet usher in the holiday season by being a special passenger on more than 100 flights across Europe over the festive period. 

To celebrate the holiday flights, easyJet attendants and employees rigged a plane with hidden cameras to capture the reactions of children onboard Santa’s maiden flight. Once everyone was seated, Canta Claus made an announcement over the public address system and surprised the passengers with presents, reported Travel Pulse.

“We fly millions of people home or on holiday over the Christmas period and we want to get the festive feeling started on board,” easyJet head of cabin crew Tina Milton said in a statement. “We have hired the world’s most famous pilot to fly on over 100 selected flights and give over 20,000 passengers an incredible surprise.”

The London’s Heathrow airport, one of the busiest in the world and home to British Airways, took a nostalgic make-you-want-to-cry approach with the bears-as-passengers ad this year, showing air travel trends from the 1960s to today.  Featuring the Teddy bear couple, Doris and Edward, viewers got a glimpse at their entire 50-year love story in the ad. And it all took place during the holidays at Heathrow. 

The ad begins in 1967, when the bears first meet on a flight and Doris returns Edward's hat he left behind on the plane. Then, their decades-long love story begins: Edward buys Walkers cookies to greet Doris at the arrival terminal, and eventually Doris does the same. 

That reunion at Heathrow remains a tradition as their bear family expands until eventually a grand-baby bear arrives and we see Doris and Edward as doting grandparents. At the end of the ad, the bears transform into a human family as they did last year, leaving us with all the feels, writes Town&Country magazine.

Canada’s WestJet has started their annual campaign — The 12 Flights of Christmas. On 12 consecutive days before Christmas, WestJet was surprising their clients with games, prizes, and giveaways at 10 airports across the country. 

Within the world’s busiest airline market — the US — during the 21-day Christmas travel season, 51 million passengers are expected to fly on US-based airlines, representing a 3.5% increase over the same period last year, according to a forecast by Airlines for America (A4A), the trade group for the country’s carriers.

Airlines will offer 91,000 additional seats per day across their networks to accommodate the 80,000 additional daily passengers expected to travel over the holidays, by adding flights and utilizing larger planes. US airlines have boosted staffing levels for 47 consecutive months and are expected to do so throughout the holiday period to accommodate the millions of holiday travelers. A4A attributes the growth in demand to an improving economy and sub-inflation airfares.

“With affordable fares and expanded route options, flying to see family, friends and loved ones this holiday season is more accessible than ever before,” said A4A vice president John Heimlich. “Intense competition within the airline industry is enabling passengers to choose the flights that most closely match their preferences and budgets”.