With the holiday season in full swing, everyone’s clamoring to: decorate their homes, buy presents for their loved ones, and plan out various holiday-themed activities with their families. But while some relatives live in the same place, others tend to live further away. So naturally, they have to take some form of transportation in order to see their loved ones. Of the various modes of transportation available, the quickest is definitely by airplane. Yet long delays can happen at the airport, either because of the weather a delayed flight schedule or issues with the plane itself.
So despite the convenience that airplanes have to offer, they can be just as stressful at this time of year compared to any other point. But because of the personal and religious significance of such holidays as Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and so forth various airports around the world try to get into the spirit of the season as well. This not only serves to cheer people up and give them something entertaining to pass the time before their flight, but also to presumably make their employees feel like they’re still celebrating the holidays even when they’re working all day and night. While some stuff the airports do is pretty cool, other times it comes across as tacky.
25 Scandinavian Airlines - Charity Flight
To start things off, this isn’t so much tacky as it’s actually quite noble. Every year, Scandinavian Airlines (or SAS) does a voluntary program called “The Christmas Flight”. According to Cheapflights, it essentially involves taking various donations that include “Food, clothing, shoes and presents” and flying them out to “The most disadvantaged people in Europe”. Since this program got its start in the 1980s, it’s been a consistent tradition with SAS for many years. In 2015, though, they collected so many donations that several trucks were employed to help them with the deliveries to Tallinn, Estonia, as stated by Cheapflights.
24 Vancouver International - Scuba Santa
Among the various things that Vancouver International Airport is famous for, it is known for having an actual aquarium. While that is pretty neat in of itself, since not very many airports have aquariums in general, this aquarium quickly gained attention through social media when images like the above picture started appearing showing a scuba-diving Santa feeding the fish inside. Yet according to Richmond News, this is “A holiday tradition at the Vancouver Aquarium” which starts the second week of December and continues until Christmas Eve. That’s one way for Santa to pass the time before the big night.
23 San Francisco International - Gift-Wrapping Stations
When having to rush somewhere for the holidays, it’s easy to forget about wrapping any gifts that one intends to bring along making things awkward when it comes to the obligatory gift-giving session. Fortunately, Fodors Travel Guide states that San Francisco International comes with “Four gift wrapping stations” that allow people who are traveling to gift-wrap their presents right at the airport instead of at home or the intended destination. Then for those who weren’t able to buy presents before heading to the airport in general, there are several stores within San Francisco International that offer various things.
22 Chicago O’Hare International - Brachiosaurus Claus
Though seeing Santa literally swimming with the fishes is weird and funny at the same time, that has nothing on this! Originally from the Field Museum, according to the Chicago Tribune, this replica of a Brachiosaurus skeleton was brought to the Chicago O’Hare International Airport in the year 2000 where it’s been standing ever since. They’ve even decked it out for the holidays, as the above picture shows the skeleton wearing a red scarf and the signature Santa hat. Ironically, though, the skeleton is based off a fossil that was discovered near Grand Junction, Colorado, as stated by Chicago Tribune.
21 Helsinki Airport - The Gift-Generator
While Finnair may be famous for supposedly being the airline that assists Santa with delivering presents to every person, Helsinki Airport is just as equally famous. Here, people are not only able to visit Santa but also have their gifts wrapped at gift-wrapping stations similar to the ones at San Francisco International (though it’s unclear which airport started this). Also, Helsinki has an actual gift generator which “Assists people to choose the most personal and funniest Christmas gifts from the airport’s product range” according to Airport Business magazine. So it’s not a mind-reader, per se, but still useful.
20 British Airways - 30,000 Mince Pies
Originating from Britain, Mince Pies are a special dish that are eaten around Christmas time. Consisting of a pie that’s baked with various fruits as well as spices, it is known for being sweet despite originally containing meat inside hence the term “Mincemeat”. While this dish is typically served around Thanksgiving in the United States, Britain still traditionally serves it during Christmas. For this reason, British Airlines offers a total of “30,000 mince pies” alongside a traditional Christmas dinner according to Cheapflights. To clarify, they don’t literally serve that amount to every person but that’s how many they have in general.
19 Düsseldorf Airport - A Giant Ice Rink
Apart from the usual Christmas decorations one tends to find in any given airport, Düsseldorf goes a step further and offers other kinds of entertainment including an actual ice rink. Located within the airport’s check-in hall, Cheapflights says, it’s probably meant to give people an alternative to standing in line or serve as a reward for all their waiting and going through airport security. Though as the above picture shows, it seems like it could get crowded pretty quickly and therefore less fun. Additionally, Cheapflights claims it’s “Free the first three weekends in December” as well as New Year’s.
18 Finnair - Santa’s Official Airline (Supposedly)
While the idea of meeting Santa at an airport isn’t anything new since there are plenty of airports that do this, Finnair goes beyond this standard practice and does something more ambitious. Namely, it makes the bold claim that they’re responsible for “Sorting and distributing the presents for over 1.9 billion children across the world on behalf of Santa Claus” according to Cheapflights. To further cement this claim, they not only have Santa available for visits at Helsinki Airport (where Finnair’s main headquarters is located) but they’ve also released special videos that detail the various ways they’ve cooperated with Santa.
17 jetBlue - Decked Out Crew
While airports have the luxury of decorating the place for the holidays while also hosting various holiday-themed activities, what does that leave the airplanes with? Fortunately, there are various airlines that celebrate the holidays in their own small way. For instance, jetBlue has its pilots and stewards dressed up in various costumes that are festive in nature (as shown above). Some other features include seasonal treats and perks depending on what class a passenger is flying. Though according to Cheapflights, jetBlue offers free streaming on Amazon Prime to all passengers as well as Sweet and Salty Cinnamon Sugar pretzels.
16 Southwest Airlines - Holiday Banter
When it comes to hearing announcements over the intercom on the plane, they’re usually treated as being important depending on the subject-matter. But more often than not, they tend to be boring due to the serious tone of the announcer whether it’s a pilot or steward. Yet there are some airports that go out of their way to make the announcements more exciting, which is certainly the case for Southwest Airlines during Christmas. According to Cheapflights, they’ll “Spruce up their typical announcements with holiday wording”. While that sounds fine and all, imagine listening to that for several hours onboard.
15 Heathrow Airport - Ad Bears
While it isn’t strange to see commercials for different airlines, they’re usually broadcasted in the airports as a way to promote the airport or airline-in-question and provide some kind of visual distraction for the people who are waiting for their plane. Yet Heathrow Airport in London, England, has taken the world by storm with its unique Christmas advertisements which they started broadcasting in 2016 according to The Independent. The premise in each one is pretty straightforward: a pair of anthropomorphic bears named Doris and Edward Bair (as shown above) return to London to visit their relatives for Christmas.
14 Washington Dulles International - Oversized Ornaments
Now while the airports covered in this article so far have tried to outdo the traditional elements of decoration and ways of celebrating the holidays with something unique, whether it’s claiming to be Santa’s official airline or simply having an ice rink, this airport is more traditional by comparison. Located in Virginia, its noteworthy features include an AeroTrain which is used to transport people to different terminals within the airport along with “Oversized holiday ornaments and decorations” according to Cheapflights. Though they’re apparently better to see from the AeroTrain, the above picture demonstrates how much they stand out regardless.
13 Zurich Airport - Too Many Lights
Though oversized Christmas ornaments seem harmless, they do have the chance of breaking and potentially falling on someone by accident. The same could be said of Christmas-themed lights also, though the greater risk with those is more long-term than immediate as some people are more sensitive to light than others. For those who have this condition, it would probably be best to steer clear of Zurich Airport which has “500,000 lights inside and outside” as stated by Cheapflights. As the above picture shows, this place not only has chandeliers made from strings of light but also regular lights.
12 Toronto International - Lots of Trees
Also known as the Toronto Pearson International Airport, this place certainly loves its Christmas trees as the above picture clearly shows. Though it isn’t uncommon for airports to put decorated trees inside the premises around Christmas time, it’s clear that Toronto International goes overboard with it. To give a sense of how many trees there are in this place, Cheapflights sites three large ones that are 27-feet 80-feet and 18-feet respectively with a lot of smaller trees in the mix. Then again, Canada does have a lot of trees. So in a way, this does make sense.
11 Denver International - Packed with Costumed Characters
Compared to other airports around the world, Denver International is noteworthy though not particularly special. For instance, it too has an ice-skating rink like Düsseldorf with the only difference being that it’s in a plaza instead of the check-in line which definitely makes it more of a reward than a distraction (depending which side one is on in terms of getting into the airport). Though one thing that Denver International apparently has that’s unique is having various costumed characters that, “Will make surprise appearances” according to Cheapflights which might include the two figures seen in the above picture.
10 Los Angeles International - Santa Gets a Free Copter Ride
If anyone ever thought Santa could use a transportation upgrade, then Los Angeles International makes that fantasy come true. Commonly known as the Santa Fly-In, it is also practiced at other airports. As the name implies, it involves Santa flying to a particular destination which tends to be a school or airplane museum. But instead of arriving in a sleigh driven by flying reindeer, he shows up in a helicopter to meet the kids who gather there. Though in Los Angeles International’s case, Santa actually hands out gifts to the local elementary school students according to The Points Guy.
9 Keflavik Airport - Mother Knows Best
While many people believe that Christmas is celebrated the same way all over the world, this is actually not the case. In fact, Christmas itself is a mixture of various cultural traditions that are practiced around wintertime which are based on different kinds of folklore. In Iceland, for instance, it is believed that the good children are visited by dwarfish figures called the 13 Yule Lads on Christmas Eve while their mother Grýla punishes the naughty ones according to Airport Business. For this reason, Keflavik Airport has a statue of Grýla where people can pose inside her pot for pictures.
8 Hong Kong International - A Neon Ferris Wheel
Though Christmas is not tied as strongly to Asian cultures as it is with Europe, they still give it their all when it comes to celebrating the holidays. In fact, they’ll often take Christmas traditions beyond their original meaning and incorporate new elements that were never thought possible. Take Hong Kong International Airport, for instance, which incorporated neon decorations in 2016 according to Cheapflights including a “26-foot-tall Ferris wheel with an interactive game”. As the above picture shows, it doesn’t really seem to tie in with Christmas as a holiday but it’s so unique that it doesn’t matter.
7 Changi Airport - So Many Pikachus
Now here’s something that has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas, yet is hard to look away from. To give some context to the above picture, the Changi Airport is known worldwide for going all out as far as decorations and activities are concerned which tend to focus on a particular theme. For example, in 2016 the main theme was Pokémon in an attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Pokémon Go, the mobile app game that was released the same year, according to Cheapflights. Hence, the inflatable and costumed portrayals of Pikachu, the mascot character of this multimedia franchise.
6 Frankfurt Airport - Plastic Aslan
As far as toy stores are concerned, it doesn’t seem that unusual to see a large plastic lion in one. But in this case, it’s at an airport in Frankfurt, Germany, that seems to have an interesting fascination with lions. For starters, Frankfurt does have a zoo with lions in it. There was even a soccer team that existed called the Frankfurt Lions, which lasted for several years before ending, and a travel blog called Simba Today brought a stuffed version of the Disney character to the airport. So maybe having a lion in this airport really isn’t that strange.