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New airline Pet Airways caters to cats (and dogs)

April 21, 2009 | 12:19 pm

Yoda sits in a dog carrier Pet-owning jet-setters seem to have good cause to worry about the safety of their animal friends when shipping them in the cargo hold of an airplane -- there are certainly a fair number of horror stories out there.  And a new airline is trying a novel approach to traveling with pets.

Pet Airways, which begins service to select U.S. cities in July, will accept only four-legged passengers.  ("Only in America," muses the Times of London.)  Amy Lieberman at ZooToo reports:

Pet Airways hopes to expand to 25 continental cities within the next few years, Binder says, and cater to exotic pets, as well as to dogs and cats.

Here's how it works: Pet owners flying out of major airports drop their animals off at a nearby, smaller facility. The pets spend time in a pet lounge before boarding a seat-free plane, which can hold up to 50 dogs or cats.

Animals are with "pet attendants" at all times, according to Binder, as they are then loaded into secured carrying cases on the plane. People are watching the pets at all times throughout the flight, though the animals are not allowed to roam at large.

Animals' flights are made to coincide with their owners' arrangements; after owners land at their destination, they collect their pets from a lounge.

Introductory fares start at $149 for a one-way trip.  "Inaugural" cities served by Pet Airways are L.A., Denver, Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C. 

Interest in the new airline seems to be high, as our colleague Jen Leo at the Daily Travel & Deal Blog explains:

Right now the website for Pet Airways is over capacity, but they are encouraging folks to check out their Facebook Fan Page, follow them on Twitter (@petairways) and inquire about reservations by e-mail at reservations@petairways.com.

Tips: If you want to find out more information about taking your pets on planes before you book on Pet Airways, read the Los Angeles Times' "Flying With Fluffy and Fido: Airlines' Pet Policies." Plus "10 Tips for Traveling With Pets."

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: Rick Meyer/Los Angeles Times

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