Pet Airways - finally!
Our Pets Are Not Cargo.....
When my husband and I found out we were moving to America from England, we were so excited - yet there was so much to do. We needed to pack, make arrangements for our travel, for the transportation of our belongings, and most important to us of all, the transportation of our beloved furry children, Oliver and Magic. This was the part that worried me the most. People who didn't know us well would say to us, "Have you found a good home for your cats?". The answer was, of course, YES, with us. My husband and I are animal lovers and to us, pets are not just pets, they are members of the family. There was never any doubt in my mind that they were coming with us, the question was, with who, and how?
I contacted a company who in the end were wonderful. My boys arrived eventually just fine and none the worse for wear (well, there was some meowing and caterwauling involved). However, there were so many rules and regulations, it really got me worried (it's not too hard to worry me where my boys are concerned anyways, but still). For instance, what you could put in the carrier, what you couldn't put in the carrier, etc. Plus there was always that worrying in the back of my mind that something would go horribly wrong. You hear every year about a poor pet companion's tragic death because he was put in the wrong hold or the wrong part of the plane, or it wasn't pressurized. How awful for the pet parents, to be so excited at the end of a trip, thinking they have done everything right, and then to have that happen - well, it just doesn't bear thinking about. I have also seen, from the window of the plane, a pet being loaded into the cargo area. Let's just say that sometimes, the baggage handlers are not so gentle with them. They treat them as just that - baggage. Those of us who cherish our pets know that it they are so much more than that.
Soon these worries may be a thing of the past, thanks to Pet Airways (www.petairways.com). Pet Airways is a new company born out of an idea from Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder, a couple who had to fly their pet Jack Russell Terrier Zoe in the hold of a normal airplane. They decided that people's pets deserved better. Over the last four years they have designed their fleet of five planes (turbo-prop Beech 1900) to accommodate pets and their carriers. They have taken all the "human furnishings", like seats and overhead bins, out and cleared the way for carriers. The carriers are secured using a special restraint system designed by Pet Airways.
Sounds great - but for most pet owners, it is the service that comes with the flight that will make all the difference, not to mention the fact that their pet is not in a hold, where temperatures can change rapidly, and it is dark and noisy - so different from the comforts of home. The service includes pre-boarding walks and bathroom breaks. It also includes a pet attendant on board, checking on pets every 15 minutes to make sure that all animals are comfortable. After landing, pets will be disembarked, given a potty break, and will be available for pickup at the Pet Lounge. If you cannot pick your pet up that day, Pet Airways is happy to board your pet at the Paws Lounge overnight. You can also always track where your pet is using their pet tracker online.
Pet Airways will fly a pet between five major cities — New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The $250 one-way fare is comparable to pet fees at the largest U.S. airlines. If they are not flying where you wish to fly, you can contact them to see what can be done. Hopefully, newer cities will be added in the future.
For some, paying even a little extra is worth it for the peace of mind it brings. Sometimes, you can drive your pets with you in the car. But for those times when it just can't be done, it's nice to know there is a wonderful, caring, safe alternative. I would definitely do it for my boys. I hate to think of them on their seven hour flight, not being near each other, having it be dark and cold, and not know where they were going and not having any human interaction. To put my boys on a flight like this would ease so many concerns I have, and I can't be the only one - Pet Airways is fully booked for the next two months. It's not a surprise really - it's a wonderful, humane concept that is long overdue, and I can only wish them all the success in the world.
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