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April 23, 2021

Pets-only airline coming this summer

By Jason Buckland, Sympatico / MSN Finance

Imagine I told you I had something legitimate for you to read today but it included the term “pawsengers.” You’d tell me I was an idiot, right?

It turns out there’s a new pets-only airline starting in the U.S. this summer, offering cats and dogs “safe and comfortable transportation” in the plane’s main cabin, free from its frightening and ominous cargo hold.

Pet Airways is to begin the pets-only flights this July and will connect between five cities (New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver and L.A.) to start. While there’s no word on Canadian stops yet, the company says it hopes to expand to 25 continental destinations within the next few years.

The airline’s website says introductory fares are $149, one-way, for each pawsenger – mmmhmm, pawsenger – you choose to board. But, my, you’re more misguided than Adventureland’s near 8/10 rating on IMDB if you think that’s a rip-off. Check out the value!

Here’s how the process works: You drop off your cat or dog at “pet lounges” in the airport two hours before take-off, whereupon they hang out until they’re loaded onto the plane.

In the cabin, pets are locked into crates (up to 50 per flight) and looked after by “pet attendants,” who monitor their bathroom breaks and keep tabs on everyone each 15 minutes.

It’s not quite clear how, but the site advertises it can give pets potty breaks while the plane is in flight. However it’s done, I’m guessing the pawsengers don’t exactly care where they have to squat. It can’t possibly be worse than a regular airline washroom.

Once the plane lands, the pets are taken to the airport’s pet lounge where they can be picked up. If you can’t get your pet right away, they can board it overnight at what is called the PAWS Lodge – why not Fleabag Hotel? – for an unlisted charge.

Oh, and I almost forgot. Every move of the flight, from the boarding, offloading and status of your pet’s bathroom breaks, is tracked into a system owners can follow online. Just imagine. Hey, honey, can I see your BlackBerry for a second? I want to see if they found my wedding band in Rex’s airborne feces or not.

So it seems Pet Airways has got things pretty well figured out. There are still a bunch of details to come out, and The Star’s Jim Byers wonders if there will even be in-flight entertainment, suggesting Must Love Dogs and 101 Dalmatians as possible flicks.

Call this whatever you want, but it’s probably not that far off. In fact, I probably have at least two or three friends that would be willing to fly in a locked dog crate in exchange for a discounted fare, vet-assisted bathroom breaks and the chance to watch Homeward Bound twice in a row. Who knows if such luxuries could actually be reality?

And I guess all this begs the question: What’s more ridiculous, the idea of a pets-only airline in the first place, or the fact it’ll probably be pretty successful in the next couple of years?



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...