Research Projects

Animals at Airports

There are all kinds of animals coming through airports today: service animals, comfort animals, security animals, and pets, not to mention farm animals, zoo animals, circus animals, primates, uninvited wild animals ("pests"), and marine life. How should airports set up protocols, physical spaces, and customer service messaging to coordinate and manage as today's Noah's Arcs of air travel?

Background (Describe the current situation or problem in the industry, and how your idea would address it.)

More and more travelers are interested in traveling with their furry companions. But traveling with them is not as easy as it would seem. Also, airports and airlines are sending mixed messages to passengers regarding animals—airports are inviting more and more animals into the airports and at the gates while airlines are charging higher fees and imposing more and more hoops for people to jump through in order to travel with their pets. So, is it soothing to have animals around or not? If it is, why is getting harder to travel with them? From the customer perspective, airport and airline protocols and messages are getting hard to understand and reconcile.

In addition, as more animals comes through airports, more unintended unintended consequences arise for airports (and passenger's with animals and the animals themselves). For example,
a. How do airports prevent passengers' animals from interacting with security animals?
b. How do airport prevent passengers' animals from interacting with "wild" animals that they might encounter or even domestic animals that they don't get along with? (What if a pet cat gets too close to an airport's therapy dog or bird?)
c. Have airports considered the public health implications of more animals? How are allergic people protected? Can a pet pig bring in or carry out a virus? Can a dog bring in ticks?

The most ACRP recent work dealing with the topic directly is from 2015, 4 years ago. It needs an update. By the time another synthesis or research project would be completed, it would be 2021 EARLIEST. Perhaps this version could focus on comfort animals, service animals, and pets because of the complex interactions they bring.

Objective (What is the desired product or result that will help the airport industry?)

The most recent guidance for airports on animals comes from ACRP's Synthesis 64. Other ACRP reports address service animals and related issues (Reports 177, 157, 5, and Synthesis 90). But these resources are out of date and do not contain the necessary guidance convenient in one publication for airports large and small.

Approach (Describe in general terms the steps you think are needed to achieve the objective.)

To develop guidance, research needs to focus on airports' best practices, current programs with security and comfort animals, and FAA guidance as well as research recommendations from the veterinarian perspective so as to reflect the best outcome for animals and be protective of their welfare across all contexts and situations.

Cost Estimate and Backup (Provide a cost estimate and support for how you arrived at the estimate.)


Related Research - List related ACRP and other industry research; describe gaps (see link to Research Roadmaps above), and describe how your idea would address these gaps. This is a critical element of a synthesis topic submission.

ACRP Synthesis 64: Issues Related to Accommodating Animals Travelling through Airports, 2015
ACRP Report 177: Enhancing Airport Wayfinding for Aging Travelers and Persons with Disabilities, 2017
ACRP Report 157: Improving the Airport Customer Experience, 2016
ACRP Synthesis 90: Incorporating ADA and Functional Needs in Emergency Exercises, 2018
ACRP Report 5: Quarantine Facilities for Arriving Air Travelers: Identification of Planning Needs and Costs, 2008


FAA Service Animal Relief Areas: Guidance and Best Practices, 2016
FAA Advisory Circular 150/5360-14A, 2017 This story profiles a bunch of airports and what they are doing to bring animals into the airports to help with passenger stress relief. At the same time, airlines are cracking down, making it harder for people to bring pets on board.



5 votes
6 up votes
1 down votes
Idea No. 183