New Airline Is the First to Cater to Dogs and Cats ... The New Frequent Fliers?

Learn how to get your pet safely off the ground and on vacation with you.

ByABC News
November 18, 2008, 12:10 PM

June 10, 2009 — -- Time for summer vacation! And the whole family's flying off to an adventure well, everyone except for faithful old Buddy.

Poor Buddy -- his problem is, he's an 80-pound Labrador and the big boys aren't allowed in the cabin unless they're service dogs. Face it, the only service Buddy's been providing for the past 10 years is tennis ball destruction.

And who wants to stick their animal in cargo? It's dark, scary, and while it's rare, dogs can and do die there. So what to do?

Well, you might want to give Pet Airways a try.

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Pet Airways, which begins flights next month between five cities, is exactly what it sounds like: an airline just for pets. But before boa constrictor fans get any ideas, passengers are currently limited to dogs and cats.

Nobody flies in cargo on Pet Airways -- it's first class all the way for Fluffy and Buddy in the cabin of the airlines' Beechcraft 1900. The plane normally seats 19 humans, but there are no seats for pets, just straps to hold animal carriers (supplied by the airline). The plane holds about 50 average-sized animals, two pilots and one pet attendant. Mind you, the pet need not be "average-sized." Back in April, the Pet Airways people told me how thrilled they were to get their first reservation for a Great Dane.

Initially, the airline will fly between seven major cities mostly in the Northeast to Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.

Animal lover and Pet Airways co-founder Alysa Binder says, the comfort and safety of pets is all that matters to them. "Pets will enjoy all the amenities we do," she said, laughing, "except for cocktails!"

And, you won't see any Dachshunds quaffing daiquiris aboard Southwest either -- though you will start seeing small dogs and cats beginning June 17.