Tempted to Make Jokes, but...4:56 PM
We've seen lots of wild ideas tried before in the scheduled airline business. Hooters Airlines, nude airlines, on and on. And in carrying on that proud tradition of coming up with crazy ideas that just might work, now a new airline is floating a business model that is either brilliant or completely insane:
Pet Airways is a "pets only" airline, where your dog, cat or other pets ride in the comfort of the main cabin, not in the cargo hold as per usual on other schedule carriers. Understand that there are no human passengers on these flights, only animals. Initially, the airline plans to operate Pet "Lounges" for arrivals and departures in New York,Washington DC Area, Chicago, Denver, and Los Angeles. The paying fares are called "pawsengers", and each flight will be crewed by a live human Pet Attendant to see that Fido's needs are met. The Pet Airways website says flights are due to begin in Spring/Summer 2009.According to numerous news reports, fares on Pet Airways begin at $150...no word if that is R/T or one-way. But when you look on Kayak and see that Delta charges between $178 and $689 to fly your pet in cargo, and Northwest charges between $260 and $480 for the same cargo service, is does make a case that Pet Airways might just be a damned fine alternative.
Oh, I could make jokes about this, about the food they will serve the pets (tiny bags of stale Dog Jerky and diminutive cups of luke-warm water), about the safety briefing (should you have to evacuate the aircraft, please leave all chew toys and catnip-filled yarn balls behind)...but I won't go there. I'll let Jay Leno and the late-night comics have fun with this one.
I have chosen to take the high road, because as you view the Pet Airways website, it appears they really have this all thought out:
You drop Fluffy off at the airport PAWS Pet Lounge as much as 48 hours before the flight. The pets "board" the plane (through a doggie door? Sorry, couldn't resist...) and after all carriers are secure, the onboard Pet Attendant monitors and checks the comfort of all pawsengers every 15 minutes during the flight. Upon landing, all pets are given a potty break after disem-BARK-ing (trying hard now - must...avoid...snark).Now if you're a pet lover and are looking for a good gig, Pet Airways has openings, according to their website:
Pet Airways 'Pet Attendants' are responsible for the comfort and safety of all our pawsengers, from the time the reservation is made to the time that our pawsengers’ are picked up. Pet Attendants will be stationed at our Pet Lounges, checking in and taking care of our pawsengers on the ground, and on a rotating basis with other Pet Attendants, fly with our pawsengers taking care of them in the air. Pet Attendants will be in charge of our pawsenger’s welfare, and be prepared to make informed decisions regarding pet comfort and safety while in transit. Of course, no allergies to pets is a prerequisite to employment.What might you think would be a good platform to fly when carrying only dogs, cats, maybe a ferret or two, and of course, the obligatory python (seen Snakes on a Plane? Again, could...not...resist). From the Pet Airways website:
Our air operations group consists of a 20 plane fleet of Falcon 20, Convair 580 and 5800 and B- 727-100 aircraft. Our planes are operated under part 121 and part 135 of the FAA regulations and have had an exemplary record of safety for over 30 years, with experience flying throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Caribbean and South America.As I poke a little fun at this, I hope the Pet Airways Top Dogs (literally impossible to not go there...) know that I believe this might actually work. If their service is (a) cheaper than the legacy carriers and (b) makes for better flight conditions than being stuffed down with the Samsonites, then who knows, this outfit might make some money hauling the mail, doggie style.
O.K, that last one was a touch over the line.