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WestJet has always cultivated a folksy image: Frequent flyers in the 1990s remember flight crews cracking jokes, singing songs and holding contests to find out which passenger was carrying the most Canadian Tire money. These days, WestJet is hardly the rambunctious upstart it once was. The company has added new routes, more legroom and premium fares to target frequent business travellers. The cornball jokes have largely taken a back seat. “The airline business is a service business,” says Lydia Zorn, executive vice-president of Toronto-based Insignia Research, pointing out that one plane is like any other. Where airlines can truly differentiate is on customer service, and that’s where WestJet excelled in our survey, ranking second on that metric only to MEC. Flying has become such a uniformly hellish slog that any minor act of largesse—making eye contact, smiling occasionally, not misdirecting your bags to Lethbridge—feels like white-glove service. Even as it spruces up for business travellers, WestJet still feels friendly—an image cultivated through savvy social media stunts like the 2013 masterstroke in which airline staff fulfilled Christmas gift wishes for a planeload of passengers. After 41 million YouTube views, that indelible image of generosity has been the gift that keeps on giving.