Orlando International Airport’s paw pilots are returning after a year-long pandemic hiatus
The cute and fluffy ones have returned to Orlando International Airport (MCO). The MCO Paw Pilots, a therapy dog program first launched at MCO in 2019, have returned after a year-long hiatus as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The customer service initiative, which was put on hold to reduce the number of crowds in the North Terminal, was designed to provide some comfort to the traveling public. When it started, the program included nine certified therapy dogs roaming the terminal giving travelers a chance to relax and get a few dog kisses, as volunteer appointments allowed.
Today’s restart of the program includes the return of crowd favorite Annabel, a golden retriever. Participating dogs have been certified therapy dogs for at least two years and must pass personal screenings and in-terminal practices before being invited to work at MCO.
“We hoped to bring the MCO Paw Pilots back once it was safe as the community continues to fight the public health crisis,” said Brian Engle, director of customer experience for the Greater Orlando Aviation Authority. “We are so pleased that the timing feels right to resume this customer service initiative in an updated manner that provides improved safety measures for the dogs, their handlers and our passengers.”
To ensure the program is in line with ongoing public safety efforts and social distancing guidelines, the MCO Paw Pilots will be stationed near concessions across from the North Terminal’s food court. There is no set schedule for the dogs as schedules depend on volunteer availability. Anyone wishing to visit the dogs is asked to position themselves appropriately in a separate area while they wait for their turn.
Customer service staff will provide hand sanitizer to each guest in line before they can greet the handler and dog. Hand sanitizer is also available upon exiting. In accordance with the current federal mandates, masks must be worn at all times.