The festive season is a time when many people travel to be with family and friends. In the US, airport footfall hit record highs over the 2018 holiday season, with around 41 million passengers travelling through security screening checkpoints between December 19th and January 5th, a 6% year-on-year increase since 2017. The holiday is also a chance to get away from it all. One recent survey found that 42% of UK consumers would consider spending Christmas abroad. Whether travellers crave family time or an escape to the sun, this is a great opportunity for airports to engage with their passengers.
Christmas is a period of connection and gifting. Airline travel campaigns for this season are normally highly emotive, telling stories of heartfelt reunions and the giving of special presents. This is the perfect time for airports to connect with their passengers, to smooth the stressful festive journey and to add a bit of sparkle to the season.
Let’s take a look at some of this year’s inspirational festive airport campaigns…
On the first weekend in December, Shannon airport invited over 2,000 children and their parents to meet Santa Claus 15,000ft above sea level, as the annual Santa Flights took to the skies.
Families from all over Ireland arrived at the airport to board the most magical flight of the year. Demand is so high for ‘destination Santa’ that tickets are distributed via a lottery system. Pauline Spencer from Blackpool in Cork, who brought her son Jacob, had tried for four years in a row to get on board before finally landing tickets. She was thrilled with the experience:
“We do something special every year but getting to go on a flight and meet Santa in the sky beats all.”
Shannon’s two-day event sees children greeted on arrival by Santa’s helpers and well-known cartoon characters. The children can dance and play festive games while they wait to board the aircraft, and then the fun really begins.
Shannon’s Managing Director Andrew Murphy says:
“The children are already well buzzed by all the fun and games and when Santa arrives on board high up in the skies, the reaction is fantastic.
“We’ve been doing this now for seven years and it’s our way of saying thank you to the public for their support. Shannon is a special place at Christmas as so many return home for the festive season but it really begins for us this weekend.
“Our staff put a huge effort in and they’ll be exhausted by the time today finishes after two days of it but it’s well worth it. It’s one of our favourite weekends of the year and this is highlighted by the fact that the event helps to raise money for our Shannon Group charities for 2019, Limerick Suicide Watch and Irish Cancer Society.”
To celebrate the start of its festive season, Cork Airport invited children from a local primary school to help staff switch on the Christmas tree lights this year. The airport also plays host to 1,200 singers and musicians who are staging daily concerts in the run up to the holiday. And there’s even a pantomime… Oh no there isn’t… Oh yes there is! The performances have gone down so well that even Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley joined in as he jetted through on the way to an 80s music festival in Kerry.
Over Christmas, many people turn up at airport security with their hand luggage full of ready-wrapped presents, despite information asking them not to. This means that the security staff have the unwelcome task of unwrapping other people’s gifts. Belfast City Airport is taking the opportunity to make a festive gesture of good will. The airport is offering an airside re-wrapping station with everything necessary to make the gifts ‘present-able’ again.
Ireland West celebrated a funding milestone in the run up to Christmas, presenting a cheque for €41,395 to its three staff-nominated charities – Croí, Hope House and The Jack and Jill Foundation.
Speaking at the presentation, Ireland West Airport’s Managing Director Joe Gilmore said,
“2019 has been a memorable year at the airport as we look forward to celebrating record passenger numbers and the completion of a number of facility enhancements and improvements. This year is the fourth year of our charities of the year initiative and we are delighted to be presenting a cheque to the three charities.”
Claire Sheeran of The Jack and Jill Foundation explained how the airport’s donation helps sick children:
“Over the last 12 months, Ireland West Airport has helped secure over 850 home nursing care hours for our 45 sick children currently living in Connaught. This generosity and commitment from Ireland West Airport Staff and visitors makes such a difference for our families. The Jack & Jill Foundation must raise over €3.5 million per year to fund what families call ‘the Gift of Time’. Time to get a night’s sleep, go for a walk or take another sibling to a local match all the while knowing that their very sick child is warm and cosy being cared for by a nurse/carer at home. Our service runs 365 days a year, has no waiting list and helps families in every community across Ireland.”
Hope House Director, Dolores Duggan said:
“We were truly overwhelmed to receive such a huge donation and will use the donation well to help addicted people and their families. Every-day at Hope House we are dealing with emerging trends in alcohol, gambling and drug use. Not a day goes by that we don’t have an enquiry from a family member or addicted person looking for help. Once again a heartfelt thank you to all the staff at Ireland West Airport.”
Toulouse Airport has prepared a handy video guide to let passengers know how best to transport various kinds of gifts.
Your can view the video here.
The video explains which popular items need to go in the hold and which can be carried as hand luggage. Examples include devices with lithium batteries, festive champagne and chocolates. Toulouse even clarifies those gifts that can’t be transported at all (if you were thinking of giving the gift of firearms this Christmas, rethink your travel plans!). This is a great way to engage passengers, and to help them to prepare for security, avoid long queues and keep transit through the airport as stress-free as possible.
In the same vein, Vilnius Airport has unveiled a Christmas tree with a difference.
The tree, which took two weeks to build and is 1.5m tall, is made entirely from items confiscated at security, including scissors, knives, blades, and even bullets. The UK’s Independent newspaper is calling it “the least cheerful Christmas tree ever,” but the tree offers a strong seasonal and visual reminder about prohibited items. Despite warnings at security, many passengers still attempt to board whilst carrying dangerous objects, and while it may not exactly be heart-warming, this certainly is a novel and creative way to raise awareness.
We want to wish you all the best for the festive season and a happy and prosperous new year from all of us at Rezcomm!