Saturday, August 8, 2009
By Anna Lee
The husband and wife team of Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel’s inspiration to start an airline exclusively for pets came from their own Jack Russell Terrier. She couldn’t fit under the seat in front of them as her carrier was just a tad too big. Zoe, like many other dogs, would have to travel in the cargo hold. This was not a satisfactory solution to them as Zoe is not cargo, she’s their pet. Plus, traveling in the cargo hold can be a dangerous and frightening experience for pets. So Alysa and Dan came up with a solution: their own airline.
On a ‘Pet Airways’ flight, dogs and cats travel in a climate controlled cabin. The aircraft are modified Beech 1900s. The seats and overhead bins have been removed and replaced with crates. Each plane holds approximately 50 pet carriers of different sizes that are secured with Pet Airways “proprietary restraint system.” Your pet is not just shoved inside an airliner and forgotten about. Pets get top flight, first class attention.
The airline currently serves five cities: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York and Washington D.C. The owners plan is to expand to 20 additional cities over the next couple of years. Fares are calculated on the size of the carrier required for your pet and the travel time involved, and range from $149 to $299 one way. These flights are in and out of smaller, regional airports.
Your pet can fly on Pet Airways, but you can’t. You will have to take a regular plane ride and expect your dog or cat to take much longer due to the type of planes and the stops they have to make. Your pet’s flight and your flight would be in and out of two different airports, which adds some inconvenience to your schedule.
According to their website, pets are never left unattended, and are taken care of by trained professionals. You drop your pet off in a special lounge area 2 hours prior to departure, although special arrangements can be made if you need to drop the pet off earlier. Pets are put onboard the plane and checked to make sure they are safe and secure. Professionals monitor the pets every 15 minutes. When they arrive at the destination they are given a final potty break and you pick your pet up in the specified lounge area. If you cannot pick up your pet after the flight arrives, arrangements can be made for an overnight stay at a PAWS lodge.
This brand new airline is getting mixed reviews since its initial flight in early July. We all have the right to make our own decisions and choices in life for ourselves and our pets. Pet Airways is not for everyone. Some people love it and some don’t. I personally don’t fly, and I have no reason to fly. My travel is always in a vehicle, where Abby is right in the back of the SUV with us.
With Pet Airways, you do have to turn your pet over to strangers for many hours. Not all cats or dogs would do well under those circumstances due to health reasons. Pet owners must fly on a different, traditional flight. As stated earlier, Pet Airways is rather expensive and the flights are long. If you are considering this service you may want to check with your veterinarian for a professional opinion.
It’s up to you, the responsible pet owner, to decide if Pet Airways is right for you or not. It is an option that is available in a world that is constantly changing and growing. Do your own research, ask for references and explore the option. If you decide it is a service you would like to try, you can get more information on flights, schedules and prices, and make reservations at their website, www.petairways.com.
Read more articles by Anna Lee