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Training takes off for guide dogs at Manchester Airport

24 Apr 2014

Guide dogs in training are taking Virgin Training Flightsto the skies to prepare themselves for life as jet-setting guide dogs.

Trainee guide dogs are now able to travel on Virgin Atlantic’s Little Red short haul flights between Manchester and Heathrow to help familiarise themselves with the airport environment and to become accustomed to flying on a plane. This is an important step in guide dog training to help blind or partially sighted owners who may want to travel regularly by air. Virgin's Little Red is also the first airline service to offer this opportunity using Heathrow Airport.

As part of the new agreement, two trainee guide dogs and their handlers from Guide Dogs Manchester Mobility Team recently flew from Manchester to Heathrow and back to help them on their first steps to becoming experts at guiding at 35,000 feet. They were also joined by guide dog owner Dawn Gerrard, who is an experienced flyer, travelling with her guide dog Kerry.

Guide Dogs' Policy Business Partner for Transport John Welsman said: "Many of our guide dog owners need to travel by plane regularly either for work or leisure, so the opportunity to prepare a guide dog while it’s in training is invaluable. It gives a guide dog owner extra confidence that their dog will be familiar, relaxed and happy on a flight, which means they can travel on their own terms."

Geraldine Lundy, Passenger Accessibility Manager at Virgin Atlantic said:  "We do everything we can to help make flying accessible for anyone. Customers are already able to travel with fully qualified assistance dogs on Virgin Atlantic’s long haul and Little Red services. By enabling trainee guide dogs to take a trip on our Little Red service we’re hoping that more people will feel confident travelling by air with their canine companions."