Canadian airline WestJet played Santa to a couple hundred travelers recently, and the result was heartwarming and tear-jerking.
Before two flights from Toronto and Hamilton, Ontario, to WestJet's home airport in Calgary, travelers chatted with a virtual Santa on a display in the terminal, who asked them what they wanted for Christmas. In a video released by WestJet on Monday, we see little kids and grownups alike chatting with Santa (who knew their names!) before boarding their flight. Behind the scenes, WestJet employees are shown working feverishly to actually buy the requested items, wrap them and deliver them to the Calgary airport.
When the flights land, the travelers arrive at the baggage claim and are shocked to see wrapped gifts tumbling on to the carousel. It's everything they had asked for. Gifts range from socks and underwear to airline tickets to a 50-inch flatscreen TV. People are smiling and crying (this writer watching the video included). And everyone's hugging Santa and even WestJet employees.
This is a brilliant move by WestJet—giving back to its passengers as a form of advertising. There's no charity involved and no sad story told (though neither is bad, of course)—a deviation from the good deed norm—just a bunch of super happy people opening presents and eating cookies in a fluorescent-lit baggage claim.
I cram everything into a carry-on when I travel, so I would have been bah-humbug-ing my way through the airport while my fellow travelers rolled in new electronics. Maybe the moral of the WestJet story is that if a digital Santa asks you what you want for Christmas, check a bag and tell him you want a yacht. (Kidding.)
Video Production: Studio M
Virtual Santa Unit and Technology: Globacore Interactive Technologies