Surprise gifts are being offered to selected passengers at Heathrow as the airport teams up with some of its main retailers in an innovative festive giveaway aimed at the 4.3 million people expected to travel through its doors over the Christmas period.

The airport started the programme last Friday by surprising six passengers arriving in the UK with iPads to help them stay in touch with their loved ones whilst they are away.

And over the next three weeks, it will continue to give gifts away randomly, including his and hers designer watches from Watches of Switzerland worth £5,000, festive Hamley’s teddy bears to surprise children in baggage reclaim and Oakley winter survival kits for passengers flying off for a ski trip.

On 21 December – predicted to be the busiest day for departures with 105,000 passengers taking off – there’ll be a Santa’s grotto and ‘elves’ will hand out mince pies and 100 bottles of fragrance from World Duty Free Group.

It’s the first time Heathrow has undertaken a programme of this kind and the airport’s Head of Passenger Experience Carol Stokes said: “The Christmas holidays are an exciting time for Heathrow and for the many families, friends and couples making the most of the festive break.

“We want to make sure the 4.3 million passengers travelling through Heathrow during December havea smooth journey with a touch of Christmas magic.”

Among the retailers and brands involved are Apple, Oakley, Lacoste, Jimmy Choo, World Duty Free Group, Ted Baker, No 1 Traveller, Expo art gallery, Heathrow Express, Rhubarb, Hamleys, Godiva, Sunglass Hut, Police, Hackett, WHSmiths and Caviar House.

In addition to the gifts, Heathrow is deploying carol singers across all its terminals over the next few weeks, while Santa will make appearances between 14-23 December.

Arts and crafts sessions will also be put on for children, while even more Journey Team members will be on hand to help passengers through the busy period.