43% of Brits use instant messaging app to say Merry Christmas to relatives abroad

  • London City Airport finds two thirds of Brits have relatives overseas on Christmas Day
  • Nearly half use WhatsApp to wish them Happy Christmas with only 15% sending a card or letter
  • The most common countries for family ties are the USA, Australia, Ireland, France and Germany
  • Research by London City Airport reveals the extent that new technology is helping Brits to stay connected with family at Christmas.

The most popular method of contact with relatives overseas on Christmas Day (second only to the telephone at 54%) is WhatsApp, with 43% saying they use the instant messaging service to get in touch, followed by 34% who use Facebook. Just 15% said they send a letter or Christmas card with a festive message.

The airport’s poll, which had over 150 responses from UK residents with relatives abroad*, found that two thirds (65%) have family member(s) in a different country on Christmas Day, with as many as 10 or more relatives located abroad for 57% of the respondents.

For those unlikely to be singing “I’ll Be Home For Christmas”, the most common reason for being away from loved ones is that the absent relative is living in their country of birth (65%) or has left the UK for a job opportunity (16%), a sign of how increased access to travel has affected modern career paths. 12% have family member(s) who have emigrated from the UK.

Danielle Kirkby, Social Media Manager for London City Airport, said:

“Despite the festive travel rush to see friends and family over the next fortnight, this poll demonstrates the extent that social media plays in bridging the gap at Christmas.

“For those taking to the skies to see friends and family this Christmas, or considering an impulsive flight in the New Year, London City Airport offers around 45 destinations in the UK, Europe and US, with a speedy passenger experience that leaves more time to catch up.”

Over half (54%) of the total respondents have a parent who lives outside the UK, 56% a sibling, and 25% have a grandparent overseas, while 8% are separated by borders and boundaries from a child who has flown the nest.

The research also appeared to prove the old adage that long-distance relationships don’t work, with just 1 in 100 with a spouse or partner living in a different country.

The most popular countries for relatives overseas are the English-speaking nations of USA (20%), Australia (17%) and Ireland (16%) with Germany (12%) and France (9%) fourth and fifth, respectively.

*London City Airport surveyed 152 UK residents with relatives living abroad using Survey Monkey. ‘Relative’ was defined to include child, grandchild, parent, grandparent, husband, wife, partner, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece, nephew, cousin, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, mother-in-law or father-in-law.