In an extraordinary move from some of the top airlines to help prevent stress when flying, a new pilot scheme will be launched from the end of this month that will involve pets being present in the departure lounge. In 13 airports dogs, hamsters and rabbits will be available for petting sessions. The idea is that passengers can spend some time before their flight stroking, talking to and enjoying the company of animals to help relieve the stress associated from flying.
A survey was undertaken by Flyhappy-statistics between June 2017 and December 2017, asking passengers how their journey could be made more pleasurable. Over 96% stated that reducing stress would be a massive factor towards enjoying their flights. The petting of animals, to help reduce anxiety, is well documented, with studies showing that stress can be relieved by the simple touching, playing with and stroking of animals. One study study showed that an increase in the hormone oxytocin, which relieves stress and a decrease in the production of the stress hormone cortisol. It is hoped that by reducing stress from flying that there will be drop in the increase of alcohol consumption and a drop in the number of incidents involving erratic, anxiety associated behaviour towards airline staff.
An area in each of the 13 airports will be separated from the main departure lounge with up to 20 animals being present at any time. Passengers are allowed into the area, under supervision from professional handlers, to spend a few minutes with the animals. Professionally trained dogs will do tricks for those wanting to participate in the scheme, with the hope that these simple tricks will make passengers laugh – Thus reducing stress. The dogs will also be happy to be petted and brushes and toys will also be available for passengers to brush and play with the dogs. For those passengers who are maybe afraid of or allergic to dogs, rabbits and hamsters will also be available. Animal welfare is obviously of paramount importance. The animals will participate in 1 hour shifts, before being moved to a ‘quiet area’, away from their workplace, allowing them time to relax as well.
This will be a pilot scheme, that is open to all passenger, free of charge but donations towards the up-keep of the animals will be appreciated.