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Dima Gavrysh/AP

Cats and Dogs Get First-Class Treatment With Airline Just for Pets

April 26, 2009 08:00 AM
by Rachel Balik
Pet Airways, an airline just for pets that allows them to travel in the cabin of the plane, will begin service in five cities this July.

Pet Airways Lets Pets Fly in Comfort

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Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder have started a business that offers an alternative. Pet Airways is an airline devoted exclusively to transporting pets. The selling point is that pets will not have to travel in cargo. They will travel in the main cabin in the airplane and be cared for by attendants.

Flights for pets will initially cost $149. Binder recognizes that starting the company in such financially strapped times seems risky, but given that Delta Airlines charges as much as $275 to put an animal in cargo, the price will probably seem reasonable to pet owners. Binder reports that so many people have tried to make reservations on the site, the server crashed at one point.

The airline will begin flying between five major cities, but hopes to expand. Because pets will fly without their owners, all flights will take place at night. This is an advantage, Binder told the Chicago Tribune, because there will be less air traffic. Owners will able to check in with their pets and monitor their flights. Pet Airways will send alerts to owners if a flight is running more than 15 minutes late.

Background: Pet travel is often perilous

Although most airlines say that traveling with your pet is perfectly safe, as Binder and Wiesel discovered, it is not always comfortable for the animal involved. In addition, some data suggests that flying can be a potentially risky proposition for pets; according to the Web site ZooToo, a Pet Airways press release cited a statistic that 5,000 out of two million pets that travel become injured each year.

A Wall Street Journal blog looked at statistics from the Department of Transportation and found that certain dog breeds, such as bulldogs, are particularly susceptible to dying in flight of unexplained causes. The Journal concluded that traveling in cargo is often not safe for pets. Such animals also occasionally escape or get lost.

ThirdAmendment.com provides a list of reported animal death, injury and loss, broken down by airline.

Reference: Air travel for your pet

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