By Sharon Gomes Thomas
My dog travels with me whenever she can, and I enjoy travelling with her. When I visit my folks upstate, Darby is in the back of the car for the three hour trip, watching the world go by as I blast my satellite radio and sing along to old 80′s songs. She’s unfazed when I slip on her lifejacket and we board our friend’s boat on rides across the water to Fire Island, where she gets to run free in the surf with the other dogs, until the beach patrol zips past on their ATVs and give all of the dog parents a stern warning about unleashed dogs.
There is one trip that Darby has been unable to make with me so far, on my visits to my sister in Seattle. My dog is an Irish Setter and 55 pounds, so she’s definitely not small enough to fit into a carrier bag and under an airline seat. I usually fly in the winter for the holidays, when the airlines don’t recommend you travel with your pets in the cargo hold because it is too cold. Sadly, she’s had to stay at the very nice Club Barks Kennel (www.ClubBarks.com – see March 2009 article) when I am away on long trips. I’m hoping that may change soon, now there is Pet Airways (http://www.PetAirways.com)
Pet Airways is a new airline devoted just to animals, absolutely no humans! Started by two pet parents who wanted to have their Jack Russell terrier Zoe on their trips, they didn’t want their pet to be treated as a package – they envisioned their pet as a “pawsenger” in the main cabin! Unless you pet travels in the cabin with you, they are treated as baggage and relegated to the cargo hold on most airlines. Temperatures in the cargo hold can be over 85 degrees in the summer and below 45 degrees in the winter.
This is how it works for Pet Airways, as simple as you flying on a trip yourself. You drop off your pet at the Pet Lounge two hours before the flight. The staff makes sure that your dog or cat (yes, it’s for both canines and felines) gets a potty break before the flight. The pets board the plane which has Pet Attendants on board to make sure all the animals are comfortable. The pets arrive at the destination, get another potty break, and meet you in the Pet Lounge at the other end of the trip. If you’re unable to pick up your pet, they can also board her until you arrive.
Throughout the trip, you can track the flight’s progress with an automated phone call or email message. Trips start at $149, and you go online to book at http://www.PetAirways.com. Your pet even earns frequent flier points! The inaugural cities are NY, LA, Chicago, Washington DC and Denver. I’m hoping that Seattle will be added soon!