JoAnna Lou
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First Class Flights for Pets
Pet Airways opens reservations for inaugural flights.
Pet Airways was founded by Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder, dog owners who were frustrated by limited travel options.

My idea of vacation is hanging out with my dogs, preferably on the beach. I once drove 20 hours to Florida to avoid putting my pets in airplane cargo. The horror stories of limited oxygen and careless handling have reduced the trips I choose to take. And the U.S. Department of Transportation’s required reporting on animal deaths hasn’t exactly allayed my fears.

Recently, my dogs qualified for USDAA agility nationals in Scottsdale, Ariz. I would love to participate, but it’s too far for me to drive and I’m not sure I want to take the risk of putting them in cargo. The travel industry leaves dog lovers with few alternatives.

So I was excited to hear about the launch of Pet Airways, an airline dedicated to safe travel for animals. Pets fly in the main cabin of their modified 19-passenger airplane. The seats have been replaced with space for secured crates. Worried owners can track their pets online and rest assured that flight attendants are checking on their furry family members every 15 minutes.

Pet Airways’ inaugural flights will be in July out of New York, Washington D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. For a limited time, introductory fares are only $149 each way.

I dream of the day when I can buy a ticket for my dog to sit beside me on a plane, but for now I’m glad to see safer transportation options.

What has been your experience traveling with pets?

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.
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Submitted by Carolyn with Ma... | April 22 2009 |

My 11 lb. dog has flown with us as an in-cabin pet from Belize to the USA for the past 7 yrs. normally flying with Continental who've been pretty good. Over that time, it has been interesting to see the policies and fares change. We've had a lot of experiences including missing a connecting flight and having to overnight in a hotel, delayed flights etc. etc. Last year US Customs confiscated my tiny baggie of premium dog kibble for fear of it being "contaminated." I explained that it was originally imported from the US and was intended for my dog's meal that evening when we reached our destination. They treated it as a threat to national security and tossed it in the rubbish, wearing plastic gloves!

We tried American once and had a horrific experience in that we were turned away at the gate just before departure due to a fine print rule that stated dogs can't fly out of Belize to the US. During the course of making the reservation, I had talked with several different agents, confirmed and reconfirmed. Only the fact that I had kept a log of dates, times, names and confirmation numbers of the 6 agents I spoke with, kept me from having to put Maggie in baggage -- in 90 degree heat no less! This situation affected our return flight on American as well and it took me weeks to sort it out. Even though it was not my fault that the obscure rule had been overlooked by 6 agents when I booked and paid for our tickets, we ended up having to fly another airline on the return and pay the difference in fare. I did write a letter to American's headquarters outlining the situation but got no satisfaction. I haven't flown American since.

Luckily Maggie is a good traveler and I go well prepared to make her flight at my feet as an in-cabin pet as pleasant as possible. However, knowing what I know, I would never send her in freight. So I'm glad to hear about a pet airline and wish it a lot of success.

Submitted by Alison with Rou... | April 25 2009 |

My dogs are not cargo. The only way that my dogs will ever fly cargo, is if I am in cargo with them! I prefer to road trip. I, with my dogs, have gone as far as 2500 miles one way, from northeast Ohio to Long Beach CA, via the road! It was an incredible adventure, and fun was had by all! We've also ventured to New Mexico twice. In fact, I recently upgraded my Blazer to an extra large Trailblazer, just for the added interior space! My dogs, all shelter rescues, range in size from 110 lbs to 20 lbs. It's good to know that there is an airline willing to allow dogs to travel in the cabin, but if I can't be with them, then on the road we go for our next adventure.

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