Pets are travelling in style. In May 2024, Bark Air took to the skies. The exclusive dog-first airline debuted with three destinations: New York, Los Angeles, and London. Its first flight from New York to Los Angeles was sold out. “The interest and enthusiasm around Bark Air to date have been overwhelming,” Matt Meeker, co-founder and CEO of Bark said in a release. After seeing demand, the company announced on June 12, the expansion of five new destinations and seven new routes, available for booking now, but service will begin October 2024.

The airline promises to give “dog passengers a first-class experience (even better than the first-class experience for humans)”. Perks include a travel concierge, airport arrival 60-minutes prior to boarding with “no crates or stressful lines” and on-board, expect calming pheromones, treats, and noise-cancelling earmuffs for all furry passengers. Prices start from $6,000 for domestic flights and $8,000 for international routes.

In March, Virgin Australia announced plans for allowing pets in cabins - pending regulatory approval, the launch is expected within 12 months. “Our love for animals has always been in the Virgin Australia DNA,” said Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO, Virgin Australia in a release. “Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality.”

WEB VA Pets in flight 11
Virgin Australia plans to allow pets in cabins

Airlines are starting to relax rules for flying with pets, but many still require pets to stay in kennels and depending on the company, there are varying policies to adhere to, which can be confusing. This may be why, for those who can afford it, devoted pet airlines are appealing: promising fuss-free boarding, no crates or pet-size restriction, and a first-class service to both pet and owner. In “The Future 100: 2020” VML Intelligence reported an uptick in pets tagging along on luxury vacations.

Private jet charter VistaJet launched VistaPet in 2019 and reported an 86% increase in pet travel from September 2019 through 2021. Other private jet companies providing pet services include Pet Jet, offering a range of flights in America, with prices starting from $4,200, and K9 Jets, which hosts international flights for VIPs (Very Important Pets). A one-way flight from London to Dubai costs $9,925, and the company is working on expanding its destinations to include Melbourne in 2025.

Pet travel is a billion-dollar industry. In 2024, the global pet travel services market is valued at $2.14 billion and is expected to reach $3.73 billion in 2030, according to a report by Grand View Research. Growth in luxury pet travel coincides with the overall industry rebounding. Airlines are taking note of petrents willing to splash out on travelling in comfort, style and ease with their furry family member and companion.

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