When I moved from California to Texas, one of the biggest stressors was trying to decide how to transport my newly acquired rescue cat. I discussed the dilemma with people at the local pet store when I was purchasing a cat carrier. One of the salesclerks was adamant that transport via auto was preferable to flying, but the time spent in transit would have been over days, not hours. I called the airlines and was given a variety of information. To my shock, I discovered that some people ship their animals as if they were luggage – in the noisy, climate uncontrolled baggage area beneath the main airplane cabin. Finally, I found out that American Airlines would allow the cat to fly in the cabin with me, and that is the option I chose. I sat in the very back of the airplane and kept my cat on my lap the entire trip. She slept and seemed very relaxed, so it was a positive experience. However, travel is very stressful for animals as well as us humans, so if it can be avoided, that would be first choice.
Now there is another option: PetAirways. On this new airline, pets fly in carriers mounted on racks or shelving in the main cabin. Pets are dropped off at least two hours before the flight in a Pet Lounge located at the airport. If you need to, you may check your friend up to 72 hours before their flight. They are given potty breaks regulary and a Pet Attendant checks the “pawsengers” every 15 minutes during the flight. The are picked up in the Pet Lounge at the receiving airport by their human guardian.
The owners of this new business credit the idea to their dog, Zoe, who was too big to fly under the seat and too much a family member to be flown as baggage. They were striving to add another option for concerned animal guardians by having a business dedicated to their safe and comfortable transport. Current cities that are being served include: Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, New York and Washington DC. Prices start at $149, and appear to be competitive with major airlines. The planes are Beech 1900s, with turbo-prop engines. Here is a video to give you an idea of the service PetAirways offers. Whatever you decide when it comes to animal transport, please do not ship your animal friends as freight.