Now, an Exclusive Airline for Dogs & Cats !

Pet Airways - World's pet-only airline launches in the US - offering all the creature comforts missing from a normal passenger flight. Sorry, Pet owners will have to fly separately...

Dogs and cats will fly in the main cabin, which has been refitted with carriers in place of seats. About 50 animals can fit on each flight. They will be escorted to the plane by attendants that will check on the animals every 15 minutes during the flight. The pets are also given pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks. To prevent pets from getting sick, there won't be any beverage or snack service. And at each of the five airports it serves, the company has created a 'Pet Lounge' for future fliers to wait and sniff before flights. Because each flight stops in cities along the way, however, the journey time is much longer than average, with the New York to Los Angeles route taking 24 hours.

One of the airline's first customers is Amanda Hickey, from Portland, Oregon, who's transporting her dogs Mardi and Penny from Denver to Chicago. The airline has been inundated with enquiries and is booked up for the next two months, airline authorities said. Pet Airways was set up by husband and wife Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel after their Jack Russell terrier ended up in a cargo hold in wildly fluctuating temperatures. But it has taken four years since then to refit a fleet of five planes according to four-legged specifications, deal with U.S. regulations and set up airport schedules. Pet Airways will fly between five major cities - New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. The lowest $149 one-way fare is comparable to pet fees at the largest U.S. airlines, some of which refuse to take animals during the peak holiday season.

Pet Airways plans to expand nationwide with easily accessible pet check-in lounges to serve its “pawsengers” in major metropolitan areas. A proprietary web-enabled reservation system will allow customers to book pet travel on the web. Owners will be able to track their pet’s travel progress online. According to Dan Wiesel, CEO of Pet Airways, “Currently, most pets traveling by air are transported in the cargo hold and are handled as baggage. This is not what most pet owners want to subject their pets to, but they have had no other choice, until now."

According to the American Animal Hospital Association, approximately 76 million cats and dogs travel with their owners each year. Despite the high number of pets traveling, relatively few currently travel by air. This is not surprising, considering the conditions under which most pets must travel. Many airlines allow small pets to travel with their owners, stowed under the seat, but most airlines will only accept one or two pets per flight. Pets that are too big to fit under the seat are relegated to cargo, and unfortunately in many cases, are treated as such. Recently, several airlines have announced they will no longer accept pets on board their aircraft at all. Pet Airways has no limit on size. The carrier will not transport human passengers other than crew and attendants to care for the animals during flights. Pet owners will have to fly separately !

From the moment a pet is dropped off at a Pet Lounge, the pet is always under the care of trained Pet Attendants. Monitored by Pet Attendants, pets will fly in planes that are fully-lit, climate-controlled and have the proper level of fresh air circulation that pets require. "Pawsengers" will be boarded and de-boarded from planes as quickly as possible, never left in the cold or heat, and depending on transit time, will be offered toilet facilities, food and water as necessary during stops. Pet owners will be assured of sensitive, careful handling and the peace of mind that their pets are well looked after by people who care as much about their pets as they do.

In addition, airlines that do accept pets as cargo will not accept them when outside temperatures are below or above certain degrees, or in other words, during the most popular winter holiday or summer vacation months. Pet owners should be aware that a cargo hold can quickly reach high temperatures. Pet owners who want to transport their pets are faced with limited or unhealthy transportation choices. A study by the San Francisco SPCA, found that of the two million animals transported in the cargo holds of commercial airliners per year, approximately 5,000 are injured in transit.

According to the Animal, Plant and Health Inspection Service (APHIS), “virtually every major airline has been cited and fined for repeatedly mishandling animals”. As a result of a lack of oxygen and temperature control in the cargo holds, the most common causes of death are suffocation and heat prostration, although one airline was cited for placing a dog too close to a motor, which burned the animal. The greatest issue facing pet owners when they want to transport their pets, aside from the dilemma and trauma of putting their loved ones in cargo holds, is the inability to know who, if anyone, is taking care of their pet and where or how their pet is being treated.

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