Pet Airways: A New Option for Pet Airline Travel

You pull up to Midway Airport in Chicago and park at the terminal area. Then the driver, who is dropping off a passenger two hours before a flight, helps the passenger to the check-in lounge. At the check-in counter the driver says goodbye to the passenger as the passenger heads to their flight where they will board the airplane cabin. Scenes like this are repeated countless times every day across America.

Only in this case, the passenger is actually a “pawsenger”, a dog or cat, and the airline is the new Pet Airways which began flying in July 2009. Pet Airways is an airline for pets only, with the exception of their human flight attendants. The initial cities served are New York, Baltimore/Washington, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles. Fort Lauderdale was added in October.

If you take a dog or a cat on a regular airline, if your pet is small enough (usually about 10 pounds or less) then they may be permitted in a carrier but must remain under your seat. For the vast majority of dogs who are too big to fit under a seat being checked as cargo in the cargo hold has been the only option. There are many reasons that pet owners are unwilling to send their dogs in the cargo hold and we at do not recommend sending pets in the cargo hold unless there are no other options. Pet Airways is another option and should be considered by dog owners as an alternative when best friend needs to fly.

Pet Airways Flight Selection Form

Pet Airways Flight Selection Form

Say you need to go from Los Angeles to Chicago with your dog for the holidays and want your dog to be safely transported in the cabin of an airplane. You can visit Pet Airways website at and you will recognize an online booking system very similar to those found on other airline websites. You enter the cities and the depart and return dates with the help of their automatic calendar letting you know what days are available. We selected December 17, with a return on December 30, 2009. The form will give you the pricing which depends on the size of the pet, the date traveling and other factors. In our example the pricing was $449 each way for a 60 pound dog. You may also upgrade to a larger size kennel when booking. The airline often seems to be booked solid a few weeks out so it is advisable to try to book early. Before your flight make sure that your pet is up to date on the following vaccines which are required: For dogs (Rabies, DHLPP, Bordetella, and a Negative Fecal examine) For cats (FVRCPP). You would also want to book your own flights to coincide with your dog’s flight so that you can meet them at Chicago. Pet Airways website has a link to allow you to book your human air travel on other airlines. If you are taking this route then you should drop your pet off two hours or more before their flight. In Los Angeles the Pet Airways lounge is at Hawthorne Airport which is about 1 mile south of Los Angeles International (LAX). You can then proceed to LAX or any other airport for your own flight to Chicago. You can then meet your pet at Chicago’s Midway airport about 12 hours later. During the flight you can track your pet’s travel on the Pet Airways website. The return flight is the same in the other direction.

So how does your pet fly on Pet Airways? Each airport lounge has a potty area and the attendants will see that each dog has a chance to go. The dogs are led to the plane by leash and placed in the appropriate kennel on the plane. The plane is a Beachcraft 1900 which normally seats 19 people but has been configured to hold up to 50 pets. One flight attendant accompanies the pets and are constantly checking on them. The attendants are Certified Vet Technicians so they can recognize medical or other issues. They can handle medication needs as well. According to Alysa Binder, a co-founder of Pet Airways and the Executive Vice President, many pets will sleep on the plane. Some will be more anxious or will bark. During stopovers (such as in Denver on the way from Los Angeles to Chicago) the dogs will generally be left on the airplane unless the attendant thinks that they may need to go out for a walk. The stopover in Denver is usually quite short. If your pet is flying from LA or Denver to NY, Washington or Florida an overnight stay in Chicago may be required. Dogs will be in kennels in the overnight lounge. There are always attendants with the dogs at the overnight lounge in Chicago.

The Cabin of Pet Airways Beachcraft 1900

The Cabin of Pet Airways Beachcraft 1900

Pet Airways has flown over 1000 pets on it’s initial flights. They have added Fort Lauderdale to the cities that they serve. The objective, according to Binder, is to serve 25 cities in about 2 years in the U.S. and Canada. There are no current plans for overseas or Hawaii flights. Flights are currently weekly but may ramp up to more frequent schedules as the traffic grows.

Ideally, we would all, of course, like to fly with our pets seated next to us. Currently, however, options of that sort are very expensive, running in the many thousands of dollars for longer chartered flights. For many of us, cargo holds are not an option. Pet Airways seems to be a very safe alternative for many pets. It can be used for people moving to new houses or for vacation or other travel that lasts more than one week. As time goes on, hopefully there will be more and more city options and flights that don’t require overnight stays on the coast to coast routes. This is a new idea but it seems to have been very well thought out by the company. More information is available at the Pet Airways website.

* may receive commissions from this company.

24 Responses to “Pet Airways: A New Option for Pet Airline Travel”

  1. Missy says:

    Looking forward to when Pet Airways offers flights out of either Oakland or San Francisco to Atlanta!!!!

  2. carole dell says:

    Pet Airways is a reasonable response to the cargo hold, but I still value my dog enough to not trust any attendant handling him. Until there is a situation where pets and people can fly together, my dog will stay home or I will drive him. It is progress, but not enough.


  3. Lisa O. says:

    Finally, an airline that understands that our pets are people too! If they only flew to Hawaii…

  4. Juanita says:

    Thank you, carole dell, well said and I agree. My dog loves to go on road trips and I prefer it to turning him over to attendants for hours. It does sound like an improvement over the cargo hold.

  5. Judy A Wright says:

    I’m just thankful to Pet Airways for opening the doors!! I can’t afford this, and like Juanita and Carole, I’d really like to be sitting next to the crate. BUT… THANKS to those that are battling for us! If I hit the LOTTO the first thing I’ll do is take a trip with my BELLA!!

  6. This is great for people who can’t travel with their dogs any other way – thank goodness there is progress in this area. But not being able to travel along with my small dog is simply not an option. She would also go mad enclosed with all those other dogs, and not with her “pack.” But I’m glad there’s a new option!

  7. Kathryn Wilhide says:

    I love this idea. I would like to travel more but I don’t want to go without my dog. I refuse to put him in cargo. I’m hoping for more cities to be added. Its just not ideal to drive from the east coast to the west coast. Thanks a bunch.

  8. cindy says:

    we need detroit to orlando


  9. Ana says:

    Thanks so much to Pet Airways for breaking ground. I’ve never wanted my dog to have to go in cargo and now at least I have an option. Now let’s just hope we can give them enough business so they can expand to more cities.

  10. Karen V. says:

    I also agree with Carole dell. I’d still be worried about my dog even in this situation and will stick to road trips for now. But its nice to know its available in case I had a situation where I had to fly my dog somewhere. I’d NEVER put him in cargo hold.

  11. Mindy J. says:

    Please Please Please add Philadelphia and Ft. Myers

  12. louisa says:

    how about takes steps forward. fly international?

    coz’ i have been searching good breeders of airedale terrier.. so happened most of them are located either in England or Australia… .

    flying one pup from australia to hong kong takes $ 1400AUS D… gee…. i wanna just fly over to melbourne and bring the pup back on my lap!!!

    wish the day will come!!
    they are Human… not cargos.. .they need special care … like human.!!

  13. Jenny says:

    I would like to see if you fly from Dallas-Ft. Worth to Washington DC area or Philadelphia or Newark?? I want to buy a puppy from someone in TX and am concerned that the young puppy will not live through the normal cargo travel space which has been the only option so far.


  14. Why can’t the plane be half people and half pets? I think your business would double.

  15. If you’re stress and anxiety then simply adopt a pet cat as studies have discovered that a man who has a pet as a friend lives longer. Just my 2 cents.

  16. This airline is now flying to three cities – Atlanta, Phoenix and Omaha. There is nothing similar in Europe, so we often drive or take a long ferry with our dog in order to take her on vacation with us, which is not ideal.

  17. rescue dog mom says:

    I agree with carole dell and Margaret Rapp. I couldn’t let my dog fly alone, but if I could be on the plane with her, I would do all of my travel this way. I currently drive cross-country with my dog to visit family, so they would make a fortune off of me.

  18. airline travel is the best but the high cost of air travel makes it a not so great option’;.

  19. My eco-friendly pet dishes would be great for traveling on pet airways or any other traveling site. Please see.

  20. Donna White says:

    Having had an escape artist break out of his dog crate in the cargo hold of a plane and wonder what all the thumps were beneath us while flying, I appreciate Pet Airways more than you can imagine.

  21. Leia Vannover says:

    i always take airline travel since it is more convenient and comfortable too. ;;:`’

    Have a look at all of the most current posting on our personal blog

  22. Latina Grimaldi says:

    i love all of my pet cats because they are so warm and cuddly.*

    Go look at our own internet page too

  23. Hola! I’ve been following your website for some time now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Houston Texas! Just wanted to say keep up the great job!

  24. i have been searching good breeders of airedale terrier.. so happened most of them are located either in England or Australia… .

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