American Airlines

Flying puppies! These cuties flew American Airlines for service dog training

Free air fare is one of the many perks of working for an airline.

But each year, hundreds of American Airlines employees donate their perks to puppies.

About 400 workers at the Fort Worth-based airline take part in the Puppies in Flight program. It’s a partnership between American Airlines and Assistance Dogs International.

The employees donate their time and use their flight benefits to escort puppies in training on transports and test flights. The flights give the cuddly canines a chance to become familiar with the sights and sounds of air travel. They learn what it’s like to go through security, deal with crowds, board a plane and walk down the narrow aisles.

These puppies eventually will become guide dogs for the visually or hearing impaired, or service dogs for people with other disabilities.

A variety of breeds can be used, including labradors and golden retrievers, toy poodles and even great danes.

This cuddly creature was among 181 puppies escorted by American Airlines workers this year to service dog training. Photo courtesy of American Airlines

The airline averages about 200 puppy flights per year, a spokeswoman said. So far, in 2018, 181 puppies have taken the high-altitude rides.

A glance at some snapshots provided by American Airlines shows that, while some of the petite pooches appear to be apprehensive about their aviation surroundings, they nonetheless look incredibly adorable and snuggly.

Gordon Dickson joined the Fort Worth Star-Telegram in 1997. He is passionate about hard news reporting, and his beats include transportation, growth, urban planning, aviation, real estate, jobs, business trends. He is originally from El Paso, and loves food, soccer and long drives.