Remember when we discussed how difficult flying with rats safely can be? I’ve also mentioned the potential hazards of shipping dogs and cats by plane. In fact, I personally will not ever fly with my dog or cat if they must be placed in the cargo area. Rats are comparatively easy to keep safe on a plane (if you follow the directions laid out in the traveling with rats series of blogs), and they’ve got one big advantage over cats and dogs when it comes to traveling by air: Rats can’t vomit. Cats and dogs, on the other hand, can. Even if airline crews know that a pet is ill or panicking, they are likely to be prevented by FAA regulations from doing anything but loading the pet and flying it anyway. Dog lawyer Linda A. Cawley recounts in Legal Beagle: Diary of a Canine Counselor several horror stories from her clients in which passengers were repeatedly told by crewmembers that their pets were fine during long delays on the tarmac, while in reality the airline crew was aware the pets were dying or already dead.
What I’m leading up to with that particularly depressing paragraph is this: It may soon be possible for cautious pet owners to fly their pets without worrying over the temperatures and conditions in the cargo area. Pet Airways, a new airline currently serving only five cities, flies pets and only pets in the main cabin, with flight attendants continuously checking on the pets and ensuring they’ve got everything they need.
The Pet Airways Concept
Before going any further, let me make one thing clear: I have no personal or business affiliation with Pet Airways, I haven’t used their services yet, and they’re not giving me anything to write this. Although, if they’d like to give me, Hart, or any of the other Petlvr writers free rides around the world for our doggies and kitties, that’d be just fine. Now, let’s go on.
Pet Airways doesn’t allow owners to fly with their pets. Pet parents must drop their pets off at a “Pet Lounge” located in the airport, at least two hours before the pet’s flight is scheduled to take off. Pets can be dropped off as early as 72 hours prior to the flight and will be boarded until their flight, presumably for an additional fee. Pets will receive regular potty breaks
During the pet’s flight, a “pet attendant” checks on each pet every 15 minutes and makes sure it is safe and comfortable. Once the plane has landed, pet passengers get one last potty break and then are picked up by their owners. If a pet parent can’t make it right away, boarding services are once again available.
Pet Airways only accepts dogs and cats at this time, but their website seems to indicate they’re working on adding flights that will accept other types of pets. Currently flights serve New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles.
Obviously, I like this concept– if I didn’t, I wouldn’t be mentioning it on Petlvr! However, it’s a new company and a new idea, and early adopters should always proceed with caution. If you choose to fly with this airline, make sure any questions you have are answered to your satisfaction, and be ready (as one always should be) to cancel the flight if you see anything that might endanger your pet or that makes you uncomfortable, such as a staff member treating a pet roughly. If I ever have reason to fly with Pet Airways I’ll tell you about my experiences; until then, if you do so, please post a comment here and let me know how it went!