GUIDE DOGS FOR THE BLIND PUPPIES-IN-TRAINING GOT THEIR FIRST TASTE OF AIR TRAVEL AT OAKLAND INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT
Training-Prepared Puppies to Assist Visually Impaired Travelers
Oakland, CA. (May 13, 2019) – A group of 70 puppies queued up on Saturday, May 11, at Oakland International Airport (OAK) for a training exercise designed to help them learn how to mitigate the challenges that visually impaired travelers and their guide dogs face when they fly.
To prepare guide dog puppies-in-training for their role in assisting their blind or visually impaired handlers with future air travel, Alaska Airlines hosted the session for several Bay Area Guide Dogs for the Blind puppy clubs. The ongoing partnership between Guide Dogs for the Blind and Alaska Airlines seeks to improve independent travel and customer service for travelers of all abilities.
The training took place at a time when the airline industry is grappling with how to address the challenges presented by passengers flying with animals they falsely represent as service animals, and when a growing number of animal species are being taken on planes as emotional support animals. But these adorable puppies-in-training and their puppy raisers serve as exemplary reminders of the rigorous training that Guide Dogs for the Blind’s guide dogs must complete before taking their first flight.
“We are grateful to Alaska Airlines and Oakland International Airport for yet another wonderful opportunity to help our guide dog puppies prepare for their very important role as guides, “said Christine Benninger, president and CEO of Guide Dogs for the Blind. “We are proud to continue our work together to improve travel for people of all abilities.”
The training session started at the Alaska Airlines Ticket Counter in Terminal 1. Activities and included: going through ticketing and TSA security; simulating gate check-in; boarding a plane safely and effectively; exploring the plane and deplaning; and claiming baggage.
“It is with great pleasure that we again welcome our partners at Alaska Airlines and Guide Dogs for the Blind to OAK for this important event,” said Bryant L. Francis, Director of Aviation for the Port of Oakland at Oakland International Airport. “This partnership provides critical training and support benefitting some of our most vulnerable passengers, and we are grateful for another opportunity to help travelers with visual impairments experience air travel with greater comfort and confidence.”
“Alaska Airlines is delighted once again to host the Guide Dogs for the Blind training at Oakland International Airport. Our team looks forward every year to supporting this Bay Area nonprofit’s training efforts, which helps familiarize the travel process for the guide dog and its raiser. It’s also a great opportunity for the traveling public to learn more about the good works of the Guide Dogs for the Blind,” shared Annabel Chang, Vice President, Bay Area, Alaska Airlines.
Current guide dog users and their guides also were on hand to practice travel procedures. Puppy raisers, guide dog users, and representatives from Guide Dogs for the Blind and Alaska will be available for interviews.
About Guide Dogs for the Blind
Guide Dogs for the Blind is more than an industry-leading guide dog school; it is a passionate community that serves the visually impaired. Guide Dogs for the Blind prepares highly qualified guide dogs to serve and empower individuals who are blind or have low vision. All of its services are provided free of charge. Guide Dogs for the Blind receives no government funding. Guide Dogs for the Blind is headquartered in San Rafael, Calif., with a second campus in Boring, Ore. More than 15,000 guide teams have graduated from Guide Dogs for the Blind since it was founded in 1942.
About Alaska Airlines
Alaska Airlines flies 44 million customers a year to 115 destinations with an average of 1,200 daily flights across the United States and to Mexico, Canada and Costa Rica. With Alaska and Alaska Global Partners, customers can earn and redeem miles on flights to nearly 1,000 destinations worldwide. Learn more about Alaska's award-winning service and unmatched reliability at newsroom.alaskaair.com and blog.alaskaair.com.
About Oakland International Airport
Oakland International is the most centrally-located airport in the 7.7M population Bay Area region, and closest airport to the region’s wealth of business and tourism venues. Oakland’s air service roster to over 60 nonstop destinations is offered on 12 different airline brands – five of which operate with OAK as their sole gateway into the San Francisco Bay region.
The vision of Oakland International Airport is to offer customers a world-class experience and be the airport of choice for Bay Area residents and visitors alike. OAK is operated by the Port of Oakland, which also oversees the Oakland seaport and 20 miles of waterfront. Together with its business partners, the Port supports more than 84,000 jobs in the region and over a million jobs across the United States.
For up-to-the-minute departure and arrival information, airport maps, and details on shopping, dining, transportation, and more, visit www.oaklandairport.com.
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