Traveling with dogs is tough, especially if you have to fly to your destination. You know your dog is miserable sitting in that crate all day. He’s stressing out about all the new smells, sounds, and stimulation. You know he isn’t happy, and neither are you because you’re spending the entire flight worrying about your furry child cooped up in a cage in the cargo hold. Don’t worry. American Airlines has you covered.
The airline giant is now offering first class pet cabins to their passengers traveling with their pups. Most airlines do allow smaller, well-behaved pets to ride with their owners as carry-on cargo, this isn’t always the ideal situation for dogs that aren’t friendly or become stressed in unfamiliar surroundings. These new luxury pet accommodations may change all of that. They are being referred to by American Airlines as “Cuddle Cabins.”
Right now, the service is only offered on the 17 Airbus 321 aircraft that American Airlines uses on flights between JFK International Airport in New York and both Los Angeles and San Francisco International Airports. Still, it’s a step in the right direction, and it shows that the airline understands the concerns of parents traveling with their fur babies.
A spokeswoman for American Airlines, Barb Delollis, said the plane’s first class lie-flat seats don’t have space underneath to store a pet carrier, but the airline knew the clientele on these flights would like to travel with their small pets in the cabin. That’s why the design team created the ventilated compartments that are certified to hold pet carriers.
The Cuddle Cabins are two berths at the front of the bulkhead that have a small space with a vented door to secure your pet’s kennel or carrier during take-off and landing. The pet owners’ seat is adjacent to the space. If you decided to try the new service, you could simply book your pet’s cabin at the same time you booked your flight.
Compared to the cost of shipping your dog with the rest of the cargo, which could add up to hundreds of dollars, you’d only have to pay a $125 carry-on fee to book a Cuddle Cabin. Obviously with the limited availability, these seats will probably go fast. You’ll definitely need to book your flight well in advance to score one of these personal pet chambers.
Cats can ride in the cabins as well, as long as they are in an airline approved carrier. Your pet will also need veterinary documentation and enough food to last for 24 hours. Other additional airline requirements, like check-in times, still apply so you’ll have to be sure to review American Airlines policies before heading out on your adventure.
Many pet parents cringe at the thought of having to check their pets like any other piece of luggage. This service from American Airlines may catch on and spread to other major airlines as well. Did you know that from 2009 to 2011 Pet Airways flew about 9,000 pets on their small Beechcraft 1900 twin turbo-prop airplanes? They stopped operating because of the recession.
Pet Airways CEO Dan Wiesel said the company was not able to tap into enough capital to survive. He says they were close, but not close enough. Wiesel also says that he is currently working on resurrecting the airline. The economy is getting stronger and pet parents want an alternative to flying their animals as cargo now more than ever. Wiesel says he is trying to come up with the funds to restart the airline now.
Pet Airways would definitely be a better alternative for pet parents, but major airlines like American are also realizing that the market for pets may be something worth looking into. Perhaps their Cuddle Cabins will catch on?