Sunday, May 10, 2009

STRUTH! Pack your Pooch with Pet Airways

IN his continuing search for the more weird, whacky and wonderous in the world of travel, DAVID ELLIS finds that when an American couple, Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder couldn't find an airline that could assure 100% safety and comfort for their pet Jack Russell terrier, Zoe in the cargo compartments of planes when they went on holidays, they went out and leased a Beechcraft 1900 turboprop to do the job for them.

But now it's not just for Zoe: when they mentioned what they were planning to friends and business associates, Dan and Alysa got so much response they turned their holiday with Zoe into a full-time business: Pet Airways that will carry pets-only to join their owners on vacation.

Initially they'll be servicing New York City, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles from July, but plan more cities for their pampered "Pawsengers" that are carried in what's normally the Beechraft's pressurised passenger compartment, with seats and overhead lockers removed.

Holidaymakers fly on regular airlines, and their pets follow aboard Pet Airways in carriers supplied by their owners to ensure both owners and pets are happy with the way their dogs and cats travels.

And pets are offered drinks in the Paws Lodge before flights, staff ensure that pets relieve themselves before boarding, and a "Pet Attendant" travels with them so they're not distressed while flying.

Did someone say "only in America…."

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