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What’s It Like to Fly on an Airline for Dogs?

Margaret Lipman
Published May 26, 2024
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Traveling with your pet, especially when that pet is a large dog, can be a stressful experience. Whether you choose to drive or fly, there are challenges associated with bringing your pet on a trip. Of course, all major airlines have provisions that cater to pet owners, but there are notable restrictions.

For example, unless a dog has been trained as a service animal to help its owner with a disability, it’s likely to spend the duration of the flight in the cargo hold. Cats and some small dogs may be able to join their owners in the cabin, but they are still restricted to a crate under the seat.

Yet with so many devoted “pet parents” willing to pay top dollar to give their animals the best of everything, there is clearly a market for a more dog-focused air travel experience. That’s the thinking behind Bark Air, a new initiative by the pet company Bark, which flew a sold-out flight full of dogs and their owners from New York to Los Angeles earlier this week. Best known for its monthly subscription boxes full of dog treats and toys, Bark has now partnered with the private jet charter company Talon Air to offer flights that are much more than just dog-friendly.

Bark Air’s motto is “Dogs Fly First,” and this appears to be true throughout the entire booking and in-flight experience. In addition to having the opportunity to sit next to their humans throughout the flight, dogs can also choose to socialize with other canine friends on the flight. The airline takes into account the breed, size, and temperament of its canine passengers when deciding how many dogs it will accept on a flight – there is usually a maximum of 15 seats available. Before boarding, the dogs can mingle while enjoying specially selected music, colors, and pheromones, while the onboard experience includes noise-canceling earmuffs, calming jackets, and, of course, plenty of the pups’ favorite treats.

A white-paw service:

  • *Although the company predicts that fares will eventually come down, flights on Bark Air are extremely expensive. You and your dog will pay around $6,000 to travel from New York to LA (flight offered weekly) or $8,000 to fly from New York to London (flight offered twice per month). The company hopes to expand to offer more domestic and international routes.

  • *According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 188,223 animals flew on U.S. airlines in 2022. There was an incident rate of 0.48 incidents (either death, injury, or loss) per 10,000 animals.

  • *To make a point about the anxiety and discomfort faced by dogs kept in the cargo hold during flights (and, obviously, as a publicity stunt for his new airline), Bark Air co-founder and CEO Matt Meeker took a flight from Florida to New York in a crate in the hold, describing it as an “absolute horror show back here.”

  • *Cats are also welcome (or perhaps, more accurately, tolerated) on Bark Air, but they must stay in a carrier during the flight.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Margaret Lipman
By Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range of topics. Her articles cover essential areas such as finance, parenting, health and wellness, nutrition, educational strategies. Margaret's writing is guided by her passion for enriching the lives of her readers through practical advice and well-researched information.
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Margaret Lipman
Margaret Lipman
With years of experience as an educator, Margaret Lipman produces thoughtful and informative content across a wide range...
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