Image via British Airways

APEX Insight: With plans to promote ugly holiday sweaters and serve Christmas dinners, airlines are getting into the holiday spirit.

The holiday season is a busy time, especially for airlines connecting passengers with their families, friends and holiday destinations – 51 million travelers will fly globally on US airlines this winter holiday season, according to Airlines for America. This increase in passenger volume is an opportunity for airlines to celebrate with their customers through innovative marketing initiatives.

WestJet pours significant resources into its annual Christmas Miracle campaign. This year, the airline created 12 Flights of Christmas  – once-in-a-lifetime experiences for passengers on 12 flights across Canada. The surprises included celebrities, music, food, festive decorations and gifts for passengers to unwrap.

Festive fashion is popular in the airline industry this year, with Alaska Airlines celebrating National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day on December 15 by allowing customers donning holiday sweaters to board early. KLM took the tradition further and designed a “Flying home for Christmas Jumper” in KLM colors. At John F. Kennedy International Airport, JetBlue and Amazon partnered to create two walls decorated in ugly holiday sweaters – the perfect selfie backdrop.

Air New Zealand is known for connecting with its customers by producing clever videos, and this year’s holiday campaign is no exception. The airline’s latest video shows a Merry Mistake as Air New Zealand crew assist Santa in interpreting Christmas wishes from kiwi kids.

British Airways plans to serve over 60,000 Christmas dinners and 90,000 mince pies to customers on long-haul flights over the holidays. Passengers can enjoy their meal entertained by “Festive Cheer,” a dedicated in-flight entertainment channel showing classic Christmas films.

Airlines are also giving back this holiday season by offering special flights for those in need. For 35 years, United Airlines has been taking ill children on a holiday fantasy flight to the “North Pole”  to visit Santa. In the same spirit, American Airlines’ annual Snowball Express sends 11 charter planes around the country to pick up over 1,700 family members of those affected during active military service. Families receive an all-expense-paid holiday trip to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airpoirt, complete with holiday activities.