Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pets Fly the Friendly Skies For More of Your Time and Money

I have travelled for business, pleasure and show with dogs, cats and birds. Transporting pets over long distances can be very stressful. The realities are that commerical airlines allow a limited number of small pets to fly in the cabin. Others pets can either be checked as baggage or cargo and spend time in a dark, cargo hold where temperatures can vary. In sum, each time you fly with pets can be tricky business with delays, stop-overs and dealing with their regular constitutions.

But now, there is a new option for pet owners that just got off the ground Tuesday. It is Pet Airways.

A husband and wife team, Binder and Wiesel, used their consulting backgrounds and business acumen to start Pet Airways in 2005. They have spend the last four years designing their fleet of five planes to deal with FAA regulations, four-legged comfort and needs as well as setting up airport schedules.
The two say they’re overwhelmed with the response. Flights on Pet Airways are already booked up for the next two months.

Pet Airways will fly a pet between five major cities — New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The $250 one-way fare is comparable to pet fees at the largest U.S. airlines.
Pet owners recognize the need for service and Pet Airways purports to have it. Dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin of a Suburban Air Freight plane, retooled and lined with carriers instead of passenger seats. About 50 pets on each flight will be escorted to the plane by attendants that will check on the animals every 15 minutes during the flight. The pets are also given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks. And at each of the five airports it serves, the company has created a "Pet Lounge" for pet fliers to wait before being boarded

The company will operate out of smaller, regional airports in their five launch cities. This will mean more money and an extra trip to and from an airport for pet owners whose dogs and cats fly with them. Additionally, stops in cities along the way means the pets will take longer to reach a destination than their owners. For example, a trip from New York to Los Angeles, can take 24 hours. On that route, pets stop in Chicago, have a bathroom break, play time, dinner, and bunk for the night before finishing the trip the next day.
The company, which will begin with one flight in each of its five cities, is looking to add more flights and cities soon. In the next three years, the Company hopes to fly to 25 locations.

In the mean time, I will still take my dogs on Delta, American & Continental. At least they can travel in the cabin with me and Matt.

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