12/12/2013 07:02 EST
12/12/2013 07:18 EST
8 'Christmas Miracles' Pulled Off By Airlines And Airports (VIDEO, PHOTOS)
The Huffington Post Canada
It's supposed to be the most magical time of the year, but ask anyone who's flying during the winter holidays and they'll tell you otherwise.
Take all the aggravating factors about flying -- long waits, less-than-friendly security, countless airline fees -- and mix in the bitter cold, massive crowds, and countless cancellations and delays, and you've the conditions for a pounding headache.
In times like these, it's easy for any traveller to break down, get angry, or shut down, but let's not forget what the holidays are really about: spending time with loved ones, and spreading the good will of mankind.
Airports and airlines certainly aren't afraid to remind travellers that it's not all bad when it comes to holiday travel. Here's a look at how some of them are making the winter flying season less horrible:
On The Market
Flickr: Mirko Tobias Schaefer
We challenge you not to get into the festive spirit while travelling through the Munich Airport during the holidays. The airport's Christmas Market is now in its 14th year and doesn't skimp on the details. Between the 50 market stands chock full of Bavarian specialities and handicrafts, the 300 real Christmas trees and a giant ice rink, there's plenty of holiday fun to turn the most jaded traveller into a cheery globe-trotter.
Ryanair And Shannon Airport's Christmas Team Up
Ryanair and their controversial CEO, Michael O'Leary, have had their fair share of moments that would definitely land them on Santa's naughty list but this is not one of them. This Christmas, the budget airline partnered up with Ireland's Shannon Airport to give 4,500 kids a chance to meet Santa early. Over the next two weekends, Ryaniar will fly 24 "Santa Flights" where kids will get to fly with Santa for 40 minutes.
Deck The Halls!
Duesseldorf Airport Facebook
What are the holidays without a Christmas decorations? Travellers visiting Duesseldorf Airport will find plenty of decorations at the German terminal with over 70 curtains made up of more than 40,000 lights, 36 white Christmas tree and a centrepiece tree decorated with thousands of chocolate hearts.
For travellers looking to do some Christmas shopping, the airport also has 24 giant gift boxes -- some nearly 16 feet tall -- scattered across the terminal. Together, they form a massive advent calendar with a box a day leading up to Christmas Day.
12 Days Of Christmas Giving
Auckland International Airport
If the holidays are about giving, then Auckland Airport totally nails it.
This year, the New Zealand airport continues its 12-year tradition of donating during the 12 days leading up to Christmas. Each year, the airport chooses 12 charities and gives them each $10,000. The donations are partly from the airport and the unwanted change travellers give away in the donation globes scattered around the airport.
'Operation HO HO HO'
Forget the sleigh. This year, Toronto's Billy Bishop Airport and Poter Airlines are teaming up with the Canadian Forces to deliver toys, books and various donated goods to Toronto SickKids Hospital. The hospital's helipad is under maintenance so instead, a group of "Santa's elves" are getting a lift in two CH 146 Griffon helicopters to the island airport, transferring the goods into military escort vehicles which will then take the ferry to the mainland and then deliver everything to the hospital. And you thought Santa had a tough job...
WestJet's Christmas Miracle
You may want to get the tissues ready. The Canadian carrier surprised 250 Calgary-bound passengers with a luggage carousel filled with personalized presents after chatting with a virtual Santa. Gifts ranged from toys to a flight home but that's just the start of it.
Once the video hit 200,000 views on YouTube, the carrier promised it would fly needy families for free during the holidays as part of their partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities. Factor in the reactions from the unsuspecting passenger's faces and you've got a Christmas viral video hit.
The Search For Santa
This year, Air Transat continued its traditions working with the Children's Wish Foundation by flying hundreds of kids to the "North Pole" to meet with Santa before Dec. 25. This time around, the Airline launched multiple 90-minute flights from Montréal-Trudeau, Toronto-Pearson and Calgary International airports where kids received presents and hung out with Old Saint Nick his elves.
Copenhagen Airports' Christmas Surprise
WestJet may have won the internet with their "Christmas Miracle" video but they're not the first to give out presents to travellers. Copenhagen Airports pulled a similar stunt earlier in December when they surprised travellers with mystery presents from a luggage carousel. It lacks the polish of WestJet's video but if you're complaining about free presents during the holidays, you're more of a Grinch than Jim Carey circa 2000.