WestJet Creates Happy Customers and a Pair of Guinness Records in One Flight

In a month where it seems like more and more airline customers in the news are cranky, if not downright angry, Canada’s WestJet tried something novel to thank a plane full of passengers and celebrate the company’s 21st year in business.

Because WestJet delivers more passengers to Las Vegas from outside the United States than any other airline, the marketing department created a cool light show as a thank you. But the airline wanted the lighting to be spectacular, something with the pizzazz, energy and excitement of the Vegas strip. How would they pull off a light show in midair? Enter the WestJet prize wheel — a kilometer-long, projected-light wheel created in the middle of the Mojave Desert visible to passengers crossing 12,000 feet above.

Toronto passengers flying WestJet Flight 1118 to Las Vegas last week experienced the spectacular show as the aircraft began its descent. As a flight attendant called down the time, passengers looked out the portside windows to see the huge prize wheel on the ground light up and begin running through a series of seat numbers, finally settling on 4A.

That surprised passenger won a $2,500 shopping spree at the Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace, tickets to Cirque du Soleil, a pair of roundtrip WestJet tickets and quite a bit more. But the other passengers didn’t walk away empty-handed, picking up discounted show tickets and gift cards from the Miracle Mile Shops at Planet Hollywood.

Creating a prize wheel nearly 3,300-feet wide also earned WestJet a little PR buzz, not to mention a pair of Guinness World Records, one for the greatest light output in a projected image at 4,666,000 lumens and another for the largest circular projection measuring 8,453,953 square feet.

The prize wheel took six months to plan and a crew of 40 for more than six days to build. No word yet on the electric bill, but the WestJet prize wheel did require 61,483 feet of cable with a considerable amount of assembly required.

Rob MarkAuthor
Rob Mark is an award-winning journalist, business jet pilot, flight instructor, and blogger.

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