Lonely Planet Writer

United Airlines finds four-legged solution to holiday season travel stress

Holiday travel can be stressful, but United Airlines’ four-legged solution is sure to make many people’s journeys a little brighter.

United is bringing dogs to the airport to help stressed out passengers.
United is bringing dogs to the airport to help stressed out passengers. Image by Hendrik Wieduwilt / CC BY 2.0

United has brought back United Paws, a program that brings professionally trained comfort dogs to airports to greet customers and bring a little holiday cheer to busy terminals.

The comfort dogs made an appearance last year, and were a big success with travellers, according to the airline.

The airline will have more than 230 dogs, mostly golden retrievers, reports CNN, and most will be located at the gates to meet with travellers after security. The dogs will be in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington/Dulles until 23 December between 9 am and noon and 1 and 4 pm.

“Research shows that just petting a dog releases oxytocin, the hormone associated with bonding and affection, and also decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier and lowers our blood pressure. I’ve experienced this recently and think this is a wonderful idea for holiday travellers”, said veterinary consultant Dr. Walter Woolf in a news release from United.

US airports are expected to be quite busy this holiday season. Trade group Airlines for America has predicted that 45 million passengers will fly on US airlines between 17 December and 4 January.