More than 100 million people are expected to travel this holiday season (the first time this has ever happened, according to AAA) and U.S. airlines will help an estimated 38 million of us hit the skies.
That's a lot of people crowding the nation's busiest airports, but we won't be the only ones in the terminal. United Airlines has a necessary and brilliant plan to help alleviate some of the stress: bringing out adorable friends known as comfort dogs.
It's called United Paws, and more than 230 professionally trained comfort dogs, such as labs and golden retrievers, will accept your cuddles at its major domestic hubs in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark and Washington/Dulles. The program will run from December 21 through the 23rd, in the mornings and early afternoons.
It's not just for giggles. Studies, such as this one from Azabu University in Japan, have found that human oxytocin levels (the hormone that is associated with feelings of happiness and nurturing) spike after hanging out with a dog. All we really have to do is stare into a dog's eyes to feel the benefit.
"Just petting a dog... decreases levels of stress, helps us breathe easier and lowers our blood pressure," Walter Woolf, a veterinary consultant for United Airlines whose last name is really Woolf, said in a statement.
In addition to the airport pups, United Airlines will donate $1 to the United Paws organization for every photo of a dog in a travel setting or wearing UA gear posted to social media using the hashtag #UnitedPaws.
Needless to say, we think this idea is a wiener.