While the debate over emotional support animals (ESAs) on planes rages on, one airline is working to help service dogs get the experience they need to become expert travelers.
Alaska Airlines has partnered with Guide Dogs for the Blind (GDB) to host their sixth annual, free event to help service dogs get acclimated to the various aspects of airplane travel.
Seattle PI explains that during the event, “guide dogs, puppies-in-training and people with disabilities, including visually impaired, hearing impaired and those reliant on wheelchairs, were able to explore mock airplanes and learn various safety measures in a controlled environment.”
During the event, Seattle PI reports that “Attendees were able to sit in airplane seats, let the dogs get familiar with the cabin, learn about safety measures, including emergency landing and exit row procedures, as volunteer Alaska Airlines flight attendants and pilots walked them through operations and answered questions.”
Community outreach specialist for GDB Jake Koch, who helped to organize the event and attended with his own guide dog, explains to Seattle PI, “This sort of thing is helpful because when you can’t see it’s hard to conceptualize flying. Something like this where you can actually feel everything increases safety and makes it less mystical and makes people feel more comfortable with flying.”
Alaska Airlines has actually worked very closely with GDB—along with Vision Loss Connections and Washington State Department of Services for the Blind—since 2015 to help make flying more accessible for the visually impaired.
Airports and flying are stressful enough, so it’s nice to hear that this airline and these organizations are working to make it less overwhelming for the visually impaired and their service animals.
Featured Image: iStock.com/FatCamera