Airlines are friendly to pets

Airlines are friendly to pets

Owners have long been obliged to entrust their animal to a loved one or board it, to prevent it from traveling in the hold. But airlines are trying to remedy this situation by making it easier to transport our little companions. Some go even further by specifically addressing animals.

BARK Air is one of them. It is the result of a partnership between Talon Air, a charter company, and BARK, a New York company listed on the stock exchange which offers products for dogs, on subscription.

A luxury flight for our doggies

As its name suggests (“bark” meaning “bark”, in English), BARK Air is aimed at our doggy friends. But there is no question of them moving around the world in cramped transport bags or, worse yet, in a cage in the hold. Dogs traveling with BARK Air will be allowed to board the cabin with their owners.

Once on board, furry passengers will be able to enjoy a most luxurious flight experience, during which relaxing music, soothing scents and pheromones will be diffused to ensure optimal comfort. During their trip, stewards and hostesses will offer them treats and refreshments (water, bone broth, etc.). You will have understood: everything is done to ensure that man's best friend is pampered.

And everything suggests that BARK Air has thought of even the smallest detail. On the day of the flight, dogs and their owners are invited to arrive at the airport 45 to 60 minutes before takeoff to benefit from a simplified check-in procedure. They will then be able to get to know the rest of the passengers – humans and canines – to get used to their presence, and even form friendships.

At first glance, it might seem like a joke. But BARK Air officials insist their offer is carefully considered. “If you think this is a joke, you don't like dogs“, we can hear in a promotional video for the airline.

Pets, the new darlings of aviation

In recent years, attitudes towards pets have evolved so much that a large number of dog owners cannot imagine their little companion being confined in a travel bag at their feet when they take the plane. However, the vast majority of airlines require it, in accordance with international regulations. Assistance dogs can remain seated or lying on the ground during the flight, but they must be kept on a leash at all times. But be careful, the largest dogs (more than 8 to 10 kilos) will have to travel in the hold, whether they have been trained by a certified organization or not.

These flight conditions can cause significant stress in the animal, which can be dangerous for their health. Matt Meeker, CEO of BARK Air, wanted to prove this by locking himself in a cage to travel in the hold, like a dog, for four hours. “There has to be a better way,” he says in a video. But the alternative offered by BARK Air has a cost: count on 8,000 dollars (around 7,510 euros) for a one-way ticket from London to New York. Currently, the airline only offers flights between London, New York and Los Angeles, but hopes to cover other routes soon.

Although the market in which BARK Air operates is niche, it is nevertheless expanding. Private aviation companies also offer pet friendly packages to their customers, including K9 Jets, NetJets and VistaJet. Dogs and cats lucky enough to fly with these companies can lounge at the feet of their masters during the flight, or on imposing leather seats. A meal rich in animal protein can also be offered to them, at the request of their owners.

For its part, Korean Air, the national airline of South Korea, created a loyalty program in 2017, called Skypets, which is aimed specifically at little companions traveling on its planes. It allows travelers to accumulate “miles” (loyalty points) each time they fly with their pet. These miles will then entitle them to discounts. Enough to make the aviation sector more “pet-friendly” in the future.