Pet Airways: Friendlier Skies for Cats & Dogs?Published April 21, 2009
During the many years I have been owned by cats, I have had several occasions to need to ship them by air, or carried onboard with me to fly in the cabin. The last time I flew with a kitty, was on September 14, 2001. We made reservations several weeks in advance, and abided by the airline regulations for the size of the carrier. Unfortunately, the seat to which I was assigned was next to a woman who was allergic to cats. Trust me... it was not a pleasant experience to be switched from seat to seat. I always worried when I had to ship a cat for breeding, or was receiving a kitty from a far off location where personal handling was not possible. I was anxious about the quality of care my cats would receive, even though I insured every cat for the maximum amount. Since I had heard blood curdling gloom and doom stories about lost cats and cats escaping from carriers, missing at the airports, I did not rest until my cats were once again safely in my arms. Shipping a cat in the cargo bay of an airplane can be a very anxiety provoking experience. So you can imagine how interested I was the other day to read about Pet Airways, a new carrier that flies pets and only pets. Their advertising reads, "With Pet Airways your pet will be safe and comfortable, flying in the main cabin, not in cargo. From check-in at our Pet Lounge, and throughout the flight, our Pet Attendants will be caring and catering to all your pet's needs. You can even monitor how your pet is doing." I consider this to be the "Cat's meow" and a "doggie delight" if one can afford this height of luxurious pet travel. Pet Airways is a Delray Beach based company, launching its service on July 14, 2009 and plans to start their operation with dogs and cats only. Their service opens with flights between regional airports in New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. The company claims that it is the first all pet airline. The company is using commuter planes operated by Suburban Airlines. According to founder and executive vice president, Alysa Binder, "the average fare will be about $250 each way, noting that will vary on pet sizes and needs." Considering fares that two of the major carriers serving the Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach airports charge; Delta Airlines fees are $150 each way for carry-on pets, and $275 each way to carry pets in the cargo hold and United Airlines round trip cabin fees are $350.00. So Pet Airway's fees are not that far out of line considering the specialized services they provide. I am interested to learn how successful this company will be after they have spread their wings, so to speak. However it appears there is an overwhelming interest in this new company's alternative travel service. When I attempted to visit their website, I received this message, "We've been bitten by such a high demand of traffic and reservations that our system is currently over capacity. If you would like to make a reservation, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. We apologize for the inconvenience and our site should be back up shortly." If you were planning to transport your pet, would you consider flying your furry friend with a pet-only provider? Leave a comment to share your thoughts.