Coming to LAX: 13 ‘comfort dogs’ for frazzled fliers

PUP program

Los Angeles International Airport supports a program to use dogs to reduce stress among frazzled travelers. United Airlines has expanded a similar program.

(Hugo Martin / Los Angeles Times )

For those airline fliers who get so frazzled by holiday travel that they start to bark at seatmates, United Airlines is offering an all-natural way to relieve stress: dogs.

Through a program called United Paws, the Chicago-based carrier is deploying more than 200 dogs to the airline’s seven airport hubs Monday through Wednesday. The specially trained “comfort dogs” will be led around the terminals by handlers so that stressed fliers can pet, scratch and nuzzle the pooches.




Canine comfort: An article that appeared in the Travel Briefcase column in the Dec. 19 Business section about the use of dogs to help relieve stress among travelers at Los Angeles International Airport said the dogs were provided by Actors & Others for Animals. A nonprofit group called Paws 4 Healing provided the dogs at LAX.


In past years, the program has operated at only one or two airports during the holidays. But United plans to expand the effort this year to Los Angeles, Cleveland, Denver, Newark, Washington, Houston and Chicago.

The 13 dogs assigned to Los Angeles International Airport are coming from the nonprofit group Actors & Others for Animals.


Representatives of United Paws say research shows that five minutes spent with a dog can decrease stress hormones and lower blood pressure.

Throughout the rest of the year, LAX funds a similar program dubbed Pets Unstressing Passengers. Under the PUP program, dogs and their handlers roam the airport every day to spread the dogs’ healing powers.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.