The Canadian airline WestJet is offering more than holiday deals – within four hours, its employees compiled Christmas wishes from everyone on two flights, bought all the gifts, and presented them at baggage claim in Calgary. This generosity made the video go viral on YouTube.
The event gave WestJet "an opportunity to share some of the magic of the Christmas season, not only with the guests on the flight, but also with the video at well over a million views," Robert Palmer, the airline's manager of public relations, told The Christian Post in an interview on Tuesday. Palmer called gift-giving "the epitome of the Christmas spirit."
"Twas a night before Christmas, and all across the land, the good folks of WestJet had a miracle planned." The video, already with over 1.5 million views, continues in this poetic narrative, and then splits the screen to show two different airports where a visual Santa had been set up.
A mother and child look at the screen, smiling at a Santa onscreen, who asks the boy, "what are you looking for Christmas this year, Cohen?" When he hears that the boy wants a "Thomas the Tank-Engine" train set, he turns to the parents, asking them, "what would mommy and daddy like for Christmas?" They ask for a big screen TV.
Santa also complements an elderly lady, hears a middle-aged man ask for socks and underwear, and even takes the request of a little boy in an elf hat – an android tablet.
"While the guests told their Christmas wishes to good old Saint Nick, WestJetters took notes and got ready to shop quick," the narrator says. Employees in blue Christmas hats go from store to store, rushing to purchase all the gifts, run them into the office, and hurriedly wrap, tie, and address all of them.
At baggage claim, the carousel was made out to look like a wintery Christmas scene – complete with snow, trees, lights, a nutcracker and a reindeer. Instead of briefcases, rollers, and duffels came boxes wrapped and tied with bows, bearing the very gifts the customers had requested from Santa.
Ecstatic, the customers opened their gifts. One lady got a flight home for the holidays, a man received a snowboard, and a startled little boy gasped in astonishment at receiving an Android Tablet. "No way!" he declared. Last, but not least, a huge TV – too large to go on the normal carousel – slides down for "mommy and daddy."
"I cried. #thatisall #thankyou," reads the top comment on YouTube. Viewer Dave Nelson commented that "after watching this video I really wish I would've booked my flight to Canada with WestJet!" At the very least, the video proved a brilliant marketing strategy, if nothing is said of its touching message.
In four hours, 150 WestJet employees took orders for, purchased, wrapped, and delivered 350 gifts. "With only four hours to buy, wrap, and deliver all those gifts, it was quite an incredible feat," Palmer declared. "We started planning this back in August, and shot the video in November," he added. The video was uploaded on Sunday.
"We have done what we set out to do, to share some of the Christmas spirit – the magic of the season – with people around the world," Palmer explained. While the video has found over 1.5 million hits on YouTube, it has also received coverage on major U.S. networks like CNN. After the interview with CP, Palmer explained that he had "inquiries from Fox News as well."
Palmer acknowledged that their mission was not faith-based, but nevertheless had a common spirit with Christians in this season. WestJet, he explained, is "known for our corporate culture – fun, friendly, caring." Indeed, for this company, CARE is an acronym, standing for "Create a Remarkable Experience."
The gift-giving shown on this video gave WestJetters "an opportunity for us to create a remarkable experience for our guests on this flight and to share it across the world."