Traveling can be stress-inducing. In fact, a study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and City University of New York found that people who travel frequently for work are more likely to suffer from anxiety, depression, sleeplessness and other ailments. For many people, traveling by plane is additionally stressful. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans say they’re afraid to fly, with women being twice as likely to report being afraid of air travel.
Luckily, many airports are stepping up to help individuals who suffer from a fear of flying. Charlotte Douglas International Airport (located in Charlotte, North Carolina) recently offered passengers the opportunity to de-stress by hosting a “Kitten Cuddle,” in which kittens from CMPD Animal Care and Control were available for snuggles.
Not only did this provide nervous passengers with a way to cope with pre-flight jitters, but it also helped to connect shelter animals with possible adopters and to publicize the need for foster/adoptive homes for these lovable pets.
Other airports have hosted similar events with positive results. For example, Denver International Airport is home to the Canine Airport Therapy Squad, or CATS, in which volunteers walk around with pups (and one cat!) with the words “Pet Me” on their vests. Check out the CATS in action in this post from Instagram user @denveravgeek:
Or what about Pets Unstressing Passengers? Also known as PUPS for short, this program is located at Los Angeles International Airport.
“Therapy dogs and handlers roam the departures levels in the gate areas of each terminal, visiting passengers awaiting flights and providing comfort, as well as airport information,” it says on the Los Angeles World Airlines website. “The program educates and informs passengers about the LAX projects and construction-related traffic impacts.”
Not a dog person? Then you may prefer to travel through Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, where mini therapy horses spend time with nervous passengers and help promote feelings of calm and peace.
“A lot of [passengers] thank us for being there at that time because they needed that little bit of support before they get on the plane,” says Lisa Moad, who is the Founder and President of Seven Oaks Farm Miniature Therapy Horses.
Research bears out this testimony. According to UCLA Health, simply petting an animal can immediately have a relaxing effect on the brain, and therapy animals have also been shown to decrease anxiety and provide comfort to humans.
What do you think? Would a therapy animal help soothe your pre-plane jitters?