Pet Airways: The All Pets, All the Time Airline

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When it comes to offering advice on traveling with pets, I’m not the baby boomer to give it. Alan and I are on the go too much to own pets. However Edie Jarolim from Will My Dog Hate Me? knows all about pet travel. Remember when she wrote about taking your dog on the road for us? Today she’s back with a guest post on Pet Airways, an alternative that baby boomer pet owners will appreciate.

Photo courtesy Pet Airways

If you’ve ever wanted to fly across the country with a dog too large to fit under an airline seat, good news. Your oversized pup doesn’t have go as cargo or stay home. On Pet Airways, started in 2009 and quickly expanding its routes, all pets travel in the cabin.

Not only do your pets travel in climate-controlled comfort, they also have attendants walking around regularly during the flight to make sure everything is copacetic (I’d wager those attendants don’t avert their eyes and pretend not to see a pet who is trying to get their attention). The “pawsengers,” as they’re called by Pet Airways, even have their own V.I.P — Very Important Pets — lounge at the airports.

The impetus for the airlines came when founders Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder had to send their Jack Russell terrier, Zoe, in cargo from San Francisco to Florida because she was just a tad above in-cabin size. They were so worried about her health and well-being during the flight, not knowing what she was experiencing under the plane, that they vowed to do something to help other pet owners — and of course, pets — from having to undergo similar stress.

The Pet Airways staff members all have backgrounds in pet care, and they all get additional special training by the airline. A pre-flight interview gathers information about passengers in advance — their health, their temperament, their preference for male or female handlers, their required medications. They are walked before the flight and given potty breaks. Hmmm. If you’re a baby boomer who’se wondered what happened to passenger service, you can see that it’s gone to the dogs!

Photo courtesy Pet Airways

Dogs are not the only pet passengers, just the most common ones. Cats, hamsters — even a hermit crab —  have flown on Pet Airways so far. But the only humans permitted on board are the pet attendants and the flight crew, not the owners. This means you have to find your own flight to your destination, and may not even land at the same airport, because the Pet Airways terminals are often in the smaller, less trafficked facilities, the better to keep the furry ones from getting stressed.

There are also a limited number of cities served at this time. Currently, Pet Airways goes to New York City, Washington D.C./Baltimore, Chicago, Omaha, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, Ft. Lauderdale and Atlanta. And the number of flights between cities is limited too.

But if the airline is currently best suited for those who are taking longer vacations or relocating, this is likely to change soon: Houston, Austin, Dallas, and St. Louis will soon join the Pet Airways roster, and the company recently went public. No question. This is a concept whose time has come. Baby boomer pet owners don’t want their four-legged family members to be treated like extra baggage.

To learn more about Pet Airways and to listen to an interview with airline representative Aly Tognotti, go to Animal Cafe, which features different podcasts about pet-related issues every week.

Have you tried Pet Airways? Join the conversation at the My Itchy Travel Feet page on Facebook or send us an email to ask a question or share your experience.

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