Bow Wow! Airline Caters to Jet-Setting Pets

Pets are now in for one ruff ride.

A new airline is launching pet-only flights where critters can travel cross-country in first-class -- with spacious "Pet Lounge" check-in areas and attendants catering to their every in-flight need.

The company is the brain child of Dan Wiesel and Alysa Binder who came up with the idea after moving from San Francisco to Florida.

Their Jack Russell terrier named Zoe survived the flight, but it also sparked the idea for the new airline.

"Pet Airways" will offer service to five cities starting in mid-July, with its fleet of 20 planes flying pets to and from New York, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles.

Flights start at $149 and can be booked online, but pet-owners better keep their paws off boarding passes -- this plane is for critters only.

The planes range in size from twin props to 747s and are 19 to 40-passenger aircrafts with no seats or overhead bins. Pets are secured in private pet carriers that are fastened to the plane in the well-lit, climate-controlled main cabin, the company said.

Binder told the Chicago Tribune because pet owners "get it" they will jump at the chance to have their animal fly in style.

If the flood of reservations after the initial announcement is any indication she is right.  There were so many people trying to log on their server crashed.

For now, only cats and dogs are allowed aboard, but the airline is looking to expand their list of accepted clientele, according to its website.

Two million pets travel in plane cargo holds each year -- and of those 5,000 of those are injured during transit, according to a study by the San Franscisco SPCA.

 "Travel can be a very noisy and scary experience," said animal care director for Best Friends Animal Society, Patty Hegwood. "It is incredible that there are folks like Pet Airways who are committed to safe air travel for animals."

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