June 26, 2009 / 1:53 PM / 11 years ago

Crowd grabs goodies and foils airline stunt

Children release 1100 air balloons with birthday wishes for Pope Benedict XVI at his birthplace in Marktl, southern Germany April 16, 2007. REUTERS/Michael Dalder

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - An overeager crowd in the Hungarian capital thwarted low-cost airline Wizz Air’s attempt to release 1,000 balloons for its fifth anniversary celebrations when they caught wind of the freebies attached.

Onlookers spied coupons worth 10,000 forints ($49.45) attached to each balloon and a free-for-all of popping and grabbing commenced before the balloons could be officially released from a giant net in the center of Budapest.

“Someone popped one of the balloons, hoping to get the gift coupon that was attached to it,” Wizz Air communications director Natasa Kazmer said. “As if on cue, the entire crowd attacked the net.”

Members of the crowd scrambled about chasing balloons and collecting as many coupons as they could. One young woman kneeled over a grill in the gutter, furiously trying to pick as many coupons as she could out of the rainwater underneath.

“The idea was that the balloons would spread far and wide, so we did not place a limit on how many vouchers they could use for a single purchase,” Kazmer said.

Wizz Air had planned to release the vouchers after a press conference in a nearby hotel, where Eastern Europe’s largest airline had planned to outline its long-term vision.

The crowd and the vouchers were mostly gone before most of the press sent to cover the event had arrived or CEO Jozsef Varadi could finish his speech.

Reporting by Marton Dunai, editing by Paul Casciato

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