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Pet airline


Thought you all might find this interesting......
Noreen


Paws up: All-pet airline hits skies
By SAMANTHA  BOMKAMP, AP Transportation Writer
July 14. 2009

NEW YORK b  One trip for their Jack Russell terrier in a plane's cargo hold
was enough  to convince Alysa Binder and Dan Wiesel that owners needed a
better option  to get their pets from one city to another.

On Tuesday, the  first flight for the husband-and-On Tuesday, the  first
flight for the husband-and-<WBR>wife team's Pet Airways, the  first-ever
all-pet airlin

All commercial airlines allow a limited number of small  pets to fly in the
cabin. Others must travel as checked bags or in the cargo  hold b a dark
and sometimes dangerous place where temperatures can vary  wildly.

Binder and Wiesel used their consulting backgrounds and  business savvy to
start Pet Airways in 2005. The last four years have been  spent designing
their fleet of five planes according to new four-legged  requirements,
dealing
with FAA regulations and setting up airport  schedules.

The two say they're overwhelmed with the response.  Flights on Pet Airways
are already booked up for the next two  months.

Pet Airways will fly a pet between five major cities b  New York,
Washington, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The $250 one-way  fare is
comparable to
pet fees at the largest U.S.  airlines.

For owners the big difference is service. Dogs and  cats will fly in the
main cabin of a Suburban Air Freight plane, retooled  and lined with carriers
in place of seats. Pets (about 50 on each flight)  will be escorted to the
plane by attendants that will check on the animals  every 15 minutes during
flight. The pets are also given pre-boarding walks  and bathroom breaks. 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.

The company will operate out of smaller, regional  airports in the five
launch cities, which will mean an extra trip for most  owners dropping off
their pets if they are flying too. Stops in cities along  the way means the
pets
will take longer to reach a destination than their  owners.

A trip from New York to Los Angeles, for example, will  take about 24
hours. On that route, pets will stop in Chicago, have a  bathroom break, play
time, dinner, and bunk for the night before finishing  the trip the next day.

Amanda Hickey of Portland, Ore. is one  of the new airline's first
customers. Her seven-year-old terrier-pinscher  mix Mardi and 2-year-old
puggle
Penny are taking their first flight  soon.

Hickey said the service was a welcome alternative to  flying her dogs in
cargo when she transplants them from her soon-to-be  Denver home to Chicago
to
stay while she and her fiance travel to Aruba to  get married.

"For a little bit more money, I have peace of  mind," she said.

It was a stressful experience in a cargo hold  that spurred Binder and
Wiesel to start their airline. Their Jack
Russell terrier, Zoe, flew once in cargo and Binder said they worried
about how the dog was doing, but were unable to check on her or get
information. The couple soon started looking for a better  solution.

"One time in cargo was enough for us," Binder said,  walking through an
airplane hangar as Zoe trotted in front of her. "We  wanted to do something
better."

The company, which will begin  with one flight in each of its five cities,
is looking to add more flights  and cities soon. In the next three years,
Binder hopes to fly to 25  locations.

Among the big U.S. carriers that offer pet services,  AirTran, Spirit,
Southwest and JetBlue only allow pets to fly in the cabin.  Most U.S.
airlines
charge between $100 and $125, but Delta and Northwest  charge $150 for cabin
trips. AirTran is the cheapest among big carriers at  $69.

The charge is more to fly in the cargo or check-baggage  holds. Delta and
Northwest are the most expensive at $275. Alaska Airlines  and Midwest charge
the least, at $100. Frontier prices its checked pets fees  between $100 and
$200 and only takes pets as checked baggage.

Anne Banas, executive editor of SmarterTravel.Anne Banas, executive editor
of SmarterTravel.<WBR>com, questions the  v

"I'm not  sure how sustainable it is," she said. "But if people are trying
to go for a  first-class service, it could make sense."

She said the  service's popularity could spike in peak summer or winter
months when  airlines in some areas don't allow pets to travel.

Betsy  Saul, co-founder of Petfinder.com, which has ranked the
pet-friendliness of  airlines for three years, said she's excited about the
expected
impact Pet  Airways will have on pet travel across major airlines.

"The  entire industry will stretch because of Pet Airways," she said. "It's
a  challenge that says 'let's make this (experience) better for pets.'"








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