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Press Releases - 2017 Archives

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Sky Harbor’s Navigator Program Adds Four-Legged Volunteers

by Public Relations | Published On: Sep 01, 2017 | Last Updated: Sep 01, 2017
Navigator Buddies pilot program kicks off at PHX

PHOENIX – Preflight jitters are common for some travelers but America’s Friendliest Airport® is offering a scratch behind the ear and a rub on the belly to calm those nerves.

Passengers and visitors to Sky Harbor will have the opportunity to pet and interact with a therapy dog while waiting to board a plane, picking up a passenger, or after landing in Phoenix. Navigator Buddies are dogs in a registered pet therapy program who will volunteer their time – along with their owners – to provide some tail-wagging comfort to airport travelers. Navigator Buddies 1

Airports nationwide have created animal-therapy programs and they have proven popular. The purpose of these programs is simple: Create a positive travel experience for travelers by offering assistance, comfort, and a way to reduce stress.

Navigator Buddies will interact with passengers both before and after security. And since they are part of the Navigator volunteer program, their handlers will also be ready to answer questions and provide directions to travelers.

Navigator Buddies 2To be accepted in the Navigator Buddies program, dogs must be in good standing with a qualified pet therapy organization. They must be vaccinated and have current health records; must be outgoing with a good temperament; and must have experience in a busy environment. Navigator Buddies are expected to be well-behaved and friendly, and not approach other traveling dogs or working animals, such as police K9 units.

As with employees, volunteers must be able to qualify for an airport security badge and be mobile.

In this pilot program, volunteer dogs and owners will be available at Sky Harbor every day. Times will vary. Each team will work a two hour shift every week. For more information on the program or to apply, please visit

See video footage from the event on our Facebook page, and up-close pictures of our newest volunteers on our Instagram page

Councilwoman Thelda Williams and Director of Aviation Services Jim Bennett with the Navigator Buddies.

Photo caption (Group photo): Councilwoman Thelda Williams and Director of Aviation Services Jim Bennett with the Navigator Buddies.

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Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, America’s Friendliest Airport®, has an annual economic impact of more than $38 billion. Every day approximately 1,200 aircraft and more than 120,000 passengers arrive and depart at Sky Harbor. PHX Sky Harbor is funded with Airport revenue. No tax dollars are used to support the Airport.


Quotes from Mayor and Phoenix City Council

“The mission at Sky Harbor is to be America’s Friendliest Airport and deliver world-class customer service every day. Our new Navigator Buddies will provide an even friendlier and furrier way to help people who have questions and reduce their stress levels as they travel.”

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton

“By partnering with our already successful Navigator volunteers, the Navigator Buddies Program and their four-legged ambassadors will offer assistance, comfort and stress reduction. Airport animal therapy programs have proven to be successful nationwide, and I look forward to seeing canine companions’ welcome passengers at Sky Harbor.”

Phoenix City Councilwoman Thelda Williams, District 1
Member of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee


“One of Sky Harbor’s most visible efforts to be America’s Friendliest Airport® comes from the smiling faces of our Navigator volunteers whose positive, friendly attitude has become the culture of our entire Aviation Department. As Sky Harbor continues to be America’s Friendliest Airport, our Navigator volunteers will be facing some canine competition with the launch of Navigator Buddies, as dogs and their owners will greet passengers at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport. We must remember not everybody is flying for a happy reason, or enjoys flying, and animal-therapy programs are a way to reduce the stress of flying and improve travelers’ experience.” 

Phoenix City Councilman Daniel Valenzuela, District 5
Chair of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee


“We all know how stressful traveling can be, very excited to see these fantastic dogs and their wonderful volunteers at the airport so that lots of people can have a little bit of furry love in what might otherwise be a very difficult day.”

Phoenix City Councilman Sal DiCiccio, District 6


“Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport continues to make traveling as stress-free as possible by launching the Navigator Buddies Program. The owners and their dogs provide a valuable service by being readily available to answer questions and by providing tail-wagging comfort to travelers. The therapy dogs will greet passengers in some of the more hectic aspects of travel both before and after security.”

Phoenix City Councilman Michael Nowakowski, District 7
Member of the Downtown, Aviation, Economy and Innovation Subcommittee