With travel predicted to reach record levels this week, traveling during the holiday typically doesn’t bring out the Christmas spirit. But there are several airline programs that are aimed at bringing good tidings to children of all ages. From flights to the North Pole to see Santa to a chance to de-stress with Spot, these are something to cheer about.
This Canadian carrier has been producing beautiful holiday videos for years. Its latest is called, "12,000 Christmas Mini-Miracles" and features holiday gestures big and small. Definitely worth a look.
Once again, American took part in the annual Snowball Express, a holiday extravaganza for children and spouses of military who died on active duty. Earlier this month, 1,700 people boarded free flights to Dallas where they were met by Santa and enjoyed entertainment from actor Gary Sinise and Lt. Dan Band. Best of all, the children were reminded that their loved ones have not been forgotten. The Snowball Express didn't cost the families a dime, thanks in part to dedicated volunteers including nearly one thousand from American Airlines alone.
The airline always likes to remind us that, unlike other U.S. carriers, Southwest does not charge baggage fees but they took it a step further last week. The airline went on social media, picked a few travelers on competing airlines, and sent them Visa gift cards to cover their fees. The message included a not-so-subtle reminder to choose Southwest for future flights to avoid bag fees; it probably cost a few bucks but generated millions in good will and publicity.
4. United Pt. 1
The airline served up its annual Fantasy Flight to the North Pole for children in the Chicago and New York area living with serious illnesses (or in recovery). The kids met Santa, got toys and had a "magical hour-long flight" that doesn't go anywhere (but try convincing the kids of that). One of the many United employee-volunteers was quoted as saying, "We want to make one day for the families where they're not worried about hospitals and schedules and doctors."
5. United Pt. 2
If you're a cat person, skip this. United is bringing dogs to the airport this week. Not just any dogs, either; these are 'comfort' canines to help deal with the stress of holiday travel. Through a program called United Paws,more than 200 dogs to the airline’s seven airport hubs Monday through Wednesday. The animals look at you soulfully and silently beg to be petted which I imagine can be a pretty good stress-buster. Look for them at all United hubs this week with the exception of San Francisco. Maybe because SFO already has its own stress-buster, a yoga room.
6. Air Berlin
This rising German airline based in Dusseldorf has a charming holiday tradition: Fly with them and they will transport your Christmas tree for free. No tree? You still get gingerbread and mulled wine.
Rick Seaney is an airline travel expert and the co-founder of FareCompare.com, an airfare comparison shopping site