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With the holidays fast approaching, the continued travel restrictions and concerns resulting from the coronavirus have only added to the stress. While crowds at airports may be smaller, the tensions have risen dramatically as travelers address health concerns and for many people, a reduced budget making it harder to pay for extras that ease the stress of holiday travel.
More ways to find relief! Before dashing to the airport with dread, check out whether you can fly from, or connect through, an airport that makes it easier to relax after a few minutes with a welcoming canine ambassador!
Not unexpectedly, with LA’s position as one of the leading entertainment/film venues globally, LAX has come up with a creative way to make it easier for travelers to find a distraction from airport stress. LAX’s PUP – Pets Unstressing Passengers program helps passengers reduce stress and the feeling of being overwhelmed from traveling. Beyond taking selfies, you can get “up close and personal” to pet, hug, kiss and play with dogs at PUP. If you bring your own pet, LAX also has pet relief stations at LAX.
In addition to LAX, 30+ US airports which have had comfort dogs available at varying times. To learn more, contact LAX Airport Volunteers, which is tracking these US programs, and be sure to see how the 2020 pandemic may have changed availability and schedules. (Click here for additional information on LAX and services on-site.)
Not to be outdone by the West Coast, here on the East Coast, in past years at Washington’s Dulles International Airport, passengers were greeted by Rugi, a Great Dane-Lab mix decked out in festive holiday attire. Part canine-carnival and part therapy, these pets are helping passengers take the edge off their hectic travel. Not to be bested by other airports, Dulles has had its own form of “petting zoo”, an indoor dog park accessible at Concourses C and D. Unlike working police dogs, these romping K-9’s are actively looking to be petted and cuddled. That dog park was a feature of United (Airlines) Paws program. After the pandemic and easing of restrictions, this will likely catch-on more and more as adults and children alike are looking to de-stress after heavy traffic, long lines and increased security.
United Airlines has worked with DC PAL’s (People Animals Love), previously had 200 comfort dogs in 7 airports spreading holiday cheer. (For an update, see United Paws program.)
No word yet on whether airport bar receipts are down as dogs replace daiquiris to allay pre-flight stress!
Tell us about what’s happening at your local airports.
For a very timely update, take a look at the Washington Post’s Sept. 2021 comprehensive update on Airport Dogs.