American Airlines offers dog hugs at Sydney Airport

"emBark" program operating twice weekly

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American Airlines is celebrating the successful launch of the first-of-its-kind emBark program at Sydney Airport, which highlights the life-changing work done by Assistance Dogs Australia (ADA). In an Australian first, twice a week at American’s ticket counters at SYD travellers are able to enjoy the company of ADA’s fully qualified Assistance Dogs while checking in to their flights.

“American’s team at SYD has seen firsthand the smiles, relief and confidence emBark can give our customers while they check in for their flights,” said Russ Fortson, American’s Managing Director – Asia Pacific.

“Every Tuesday and Thursday that the emBark program runs, the atmosphere at check-in is noticeably lighter and more relaxed. If these inspiring dogs can accomplish this during short interactions with our customers, imagine the positive impact they can have on the daily lives of the people who need them.”

Pictures, cuddles and petting are welcome and American hopes customers’ interactions with these incredible dogs will inspire them to support ADA and the life-transforming services it provides to Australians with physical disabilities, PTSD and autism.

“Our remarkable Assistance Dogs provide improved health, confidence and independence to individuals who need them,” said Richard Lord, Chief Executive Officer of Assistance Dogs Australia. “While we provide these Assistance Dogs and support services free of charge, each dog takes two years and more than $35,000 to become fully qualified, trained and placed. By collaborating with American Airlines to create emBark, we hope some travellers will be moved to support our work.”

ADA is a registered charity that relies solely on donations to fund its mission. To make a donation to ADA today and make a huge difference to the life of an adult or child living with a disability, visit ADA’s website. ADA is an affiliate of Assistance Dogs International, which American has supported since 1999 with its Puppies in Flight program.

Sydney Airport CEO Geoff Culbert said: “This is a fantastic initiative that will make a positive difference for many of our passengers and we’re pleased to support it. We’re always looking at innovative ways to make the journey through our airport more comfortable and enjoyable for our passengers, and this partnership with American Airlines will help us do just that.”

American Airlines began serving Sydney Airport in December 2015. The world’s largest airline offers daily, year-round service from SYD to its US hub in Los Angeles on its new Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.

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