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Dog and cat channel 'Paws and Relax' on British Airways long flights September

Bertie, a Red Cameo cat, awaits judgment at 2013 'Supreme Championship Cat Show' in Birmingham, England. Might the cat show be shown in 'Paws and Relax' channel on British Airways?
Bertie, a Red Cameo cat, awaits judgment at 2013 'Supreme Championship Cat Show' in Birmingham, England. Might the cat show be shown in 'Paws and Relax' channel on British Airways?
Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images

British Airways in September launches "Paws & Relax", an in-flight channel of pups and cats to soothe passengers on its long-haul, seven-hour-plus flights.

British Airways staff Helena with pup Angelica for 'Paws and Relax' new in-flight entertainment on BA long-haul flights
Photo ©Nick Morrish, British Airways.

Perhaps it can help avoid air rage that caused three flights within about a week to make unscheduled stops to unload unruly passengers, unhinged by reclining seats. A Delta flight from New York to West Palm Beach, Florida was rerouted briefly to Jacksonville Sept. 1; an American Airlines flight from Miami to Paris on Aug. 27 was diverted to Boston; and a United Airlines flight from Newark to Denver was diverted to Chicago's O'Hare Aug. 24.

No dog- or cat-fights on British Airways' (BA) new "Paws & Relax" channel.

Watching a video of a cute animal can reduce heart rate and blood pressure within one minute, suggests psychologist Richard Wiseman in his book "59 Seconds", BA noted. And a paper published by Hiroshima University entitled "Power of Kawaii" ("power of cute"), showed that people who looked at pictures of puppies or kittens had higher levels of concentration afterwards.

BA teamed up with experts at Battersea Dogs & Cats Home for insight into the benefits of pet ownership, and the channel's trailer. It features some of the shelter's animals who need a forever home: Alfie the Pug; Sky the Siberian Husky; Angelica the Staffordshire Bull Terrier mix; and kittens Karma, Knight, and Karis.

"P&R" helps R&R through programs like "America's Cutest Dog", some of the best canine clips Animal Planet found on the internet, in categories like "Dancing with the Dogs" and "Let Sleeping Dogs Lie"; "Simon's Cat", an animated internet series; "The Secret Life of Cats", a popular BBC documentary of 11 felines like Hermie, Deebee, and Phoebe, fitted with cat-cams and GPS collars, to follow their daily movements.

"We have sniffed out some fantastic content that is cute, comforting, and sure to appeal to travellers of all ages," said BA in-flight entertainment manager, Richard D'Cruze, in a statement. "It might sound barking, but there's lots of research to suggest that watching pets can enhance overall wellbeing."

And there's lots of research that shows how popular pets are in America and Britain.

Some 82.5 million U.S. homes -- 68 percent of all U.S. households -- have at least one pet, according to American Pet Products Association (APPA). Dogs are in almost 47 percent of the homes, and cats are in more than 37 percent, among other pets, notes APPA's latest survey.

BA gathered what it termed "Fluffy Facts", like there are 17 million cat and dog owners in the UK, according to The Pet Food Manufacturers Association.

One in 50 travellers would prefer to be greeted by their pet at the airport, rather than a family member, according to OnePoll's survey of 2,000 people.

(My own poll: I'd prefer that my pet white dove, Nureyev, greeted me -- but he is a family member.)

One of BA's recent passengers was an animal. The airline in August transported an endangered Bengal Slow Loris primate more than 5,000 miles from the Maldives, where it had been captured in a drug raid, to England and a sanctuary.

For more info: British Airways, "Paws & Relax" trailer, Available in September on BA flights including ones from London's Gatwick-Bermuda-Gatwick.

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