4 Funny Ways US Airports Help Nervous Flyers Cope With Travel Anxiety

LiLou the first US airport therapy pig

Nervous flyers can say goodbye to flight anxiety. Airline companies in the US are going out of their way to make your time at the airport more relaxed and enjoyable.

I mean flying can be a very stressful experience for many of us, including me.

The thing is, humans were not evolved to shoot through the sky locked up in an aluminum canister. That’s just not a situation in which we naturally thrive.

We naturally fear heights because it’s dangerous. We have no wings to help us out in the sky, so the thought of rising above the clouds might seem like a risky endeavor.

And yes, I know that statistics say that airplane crashes are exceptionally rare and that you're in much more danger traveling by car. I think everybody struggling with flight anxiety knows that fact. 

But with that primal fear of flying wired into us, boarding an aircraft can give even the toughest among us cold feet.

But you know what? Airline companies know about that. They know just how unnatural flight is for our human brains and they do everything they can to help us overcome that nagging sense of anxiety while waiting in the lounge.

In today’s article, I want to share with you a couple of genius - and hilarious - attempts by some of the largest airports in the US at keeping their travelers calm.


#1 United Airlines And Their United Paws Program Will Make You Forget Flight Anxiety


The United Paws program will make you forget all about that huge aluminum canister you’re about to board by bringing in the cutest therapy dogs to comfort you.

These adorable pups come from local therapy dog organizations, so they know just the way to make you forget about your upcoming flight.

Take a look at some of these pups, aren’t they adorable?



#2 Forget about Travel Anxiety: Meet LiLou, the First Airport Therapy Pig in the US!


If you thought the pup team of United Paws was cute, wait until you meet LiLou, the adorable piglet in a tutu.

Yes, that’s right, she’s wearing a tutu and a blue vest that reads “pet me.”

Now if she doesn’t get rid of flight anxiety, I don’t know what does.

LiLou is the newest member of the “Wag Brigade,” San Francisco Airport’s four-legged animal therapy team. Since December 3, 2013, the furry members of the Wag Brigade have been patrolling the terminals to relax passengers and make them smile.

The Wag Brigade originally consisted of dogs only but believe it or not, dogs are not for everyone. So to add variety, the Airport invited LiLou to join the brigade and show off her tricks to people.

What kind of tricks, you ask?

Well, LiLou can apparently play her toy piano and actually takes a bow after each performance.

She’s not just a pretty face, you know.

Now I kind of wish we had scheduled our San Francisco trip with my wife for this month. We might have been able to catch a glimpse of LiLou – and boy did I need a therapy pig to calm me down before our 13 hour flight back to Europe across the Atlantic Ocean.

And by the way, I don’t know whoit was that thought of using a therapy pig in a tutu to calm down nervous fliers but they deserve a Nobel Prize.


#3 Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport Uses Therapy Ponies to Keep You Calm


You might think that if you’ve seen a tiny piglet in a tutu playing on a toy piano to calm down nervous crowds at an airport, you’ve seen it all.

Well, think again. 

The Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport came up with the idea to use miniature horses to help you stay calm right before your flight.

These adorable ponies come from the Seven Oaks Farm where they were trained to become therapy horses. What that means is that they feel comfortable around humans regardless of size, color, or gender. In their free time, these amazing ponises also visit hospitals by the way to cheer up patients.

Here’s a few pictures of these adorable ponies in action:

Itty Bitty Horses help you ease travel anxiety

(source: facebook.com/ittybittyhorses)


 Itty Bitty Horses in action

(source: facebook.com/ittybittyhorses)


#4 Meet the Weirdest Emotional Support Animal You've Ever Seen on a Flight


I left the turkey for last.

The reason is that unlike the previous three therapy animals, this particular one was not brought in by the airport staff as part of an organized effort to calm nervous flyers.

This time, it was a passenger who had documents backing up the claim that their emotional support animal was a turkey.

That's right, from all the four-legged options out there, someone chose a turkey to eliminate flight anxiety. 

And so the turkey ended up travelling on board with the rest of the passengers.

Let the picture speak for itself:

My neighbor is a flight attendant. He just posted this photo of someone's "therapy pet," on his flight.


Final Thoughts


Flying can be a nerve-wrecking experience. I've known people who would be reduced to tears every single time the airplane took off with them on board. 

Other people, like me, only need exposure and a bunch of mental gymnastics to convince themselves that it's going to be okay.

At any rate, it's great that airports are doing their best to acknowledge flight anxiety for what it is and they try to keep passengers calm and relaxed.

I think bringing in therapy animals is a great idea and one that actually works great. I mean just look at the pictures, they speak for themselves. 

The turkey though, I think that one was kind of pushing it, if you know what I mean...

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