Being in an airport can be stressful. It’s crowded, your flight might be delayed, your luggage could go missing, and the list goes on and on.
Shortly after 9/11, San Jose International Airport introduced therapy dogs as a way to help passengers deal with airport- and flight-related stress.
When we wrote about How To Kill Time In An Airport (And Not Spend Money – Or At Least Not Much), in April 2018, there were 4 airports (San Francisco Int’l, LAX, Miami or, of course, San Jose) that offered therapy dogs. In April 2019, the Alliance of Therapy Dogs documented that there were over 58 therapy dog programs in airports worldwide.
And now you can add one more airport to the list – Orlando International Airport.
MCO announced in late August that they planned to bring in ten therapy dogs to help calm down frazzled flyers. Unfortunately, Hurricane Dorian decided to blow through and delayed those plans.
But finally, after a few weeks to rescheduling, the MCO Paw Pilots pups were ready to offer their services to airport travelers in need of some canine cuddling.
The day before program launch, the Gurus Of All Things MCO Social Media even made a special absence note for those who wanted to stop by and meet the therapy dogs…
Finally, Friday, September 20th arrives – the same day that people planned to storm Area 51 (we offered them some advice to help with their travel plans). No offense to them, but I think the people at MCO had a better time.
MCO, as we’ve mused about in the past, can sometimes be more stressful than other airports of similar size (here’s why we think it is). The folks in charge of the airport apparently are more aware of that than we ever thought:
“We understand that travel can be stressful and the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority (GOAA) wants to try something new to enhance the customer experience,” said Brian Engle, director of customer experience for GOAA. “Our Paw Pilots will offer the right balance of comfort and cuddles with our team of vetted therapy dogs and their handlers.”
The team of dogs (there’s 10 of them in total) and their owners/handlers will appear at various times throughout the week, each for 2-hour sessions. All appearances will be before security (so you won’t see them at the terminals/gates).
MCO Paws Pilots is a trial program and will be evaluated next year to determine if it will become a permanent addition to the airport.
*** All photos via MCO Twitter
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary