Dan Wiesel and his wife, Alysa Binder, remember the guilt they felt after their Jack Russell terrier Zoe had to fly cross country in the cargo area of a plane when they moved from the San Francisco Bay area to Florida. “When she came out she just wasn’t herself,” Binder said. “We thought there had to be a better way.” The couple’s answer is Pet Airways, a new airline just for cats and dogs that the couple founded. The airline had its inaugural flights Tuesday from several airports, including BWI Marshall Airport.
There are no human passengers aboard Pet Airways flights, just animals, which are called “pawsengers…”
The airline is sold out for its first two months, Binder said. Pet Airways serves Baltimore, New York, Chicago, Denver and Los Angeles, but Binder said the company hopes to expand to 25 cities in a couple of years. Ticket prices average $250, Binder said. Other airlines charge $75 to $275 for pets, with prices varying depending on where the pets ride. In May, Southwest began allowing people to bring small pets on board for $75.
One airline expert said there is a niche for people who want to take their pets on vacation and other travels. But it is unclear if this airline is the answer.
It may be complicated for passengers to plan their flights with their pet’s flights, said Robert Mann, president of airline consulting firm R.W. Mann & Co. Inc.
“It’s an interesting concept,” Mann said. “There is a need for it. The key question is if this particular concept really meets that need. Time will tell, as it usually does.”
I always like to work on leftovers, doing the leftover things. Things that were discarded, that everybody knew was no good, I always thought had a great potential to be funny ... I’m not saying that popular taste is bad and so that what’s left over from the bad taste is good: I’m saying that what’s left over is probably bad, but if you can take it and make it good or at least interesting, then you’re not wasting as much as you would otherwise. ... I deviate from my philosophy of using leftovers in two areas: (1) my pet, and (2) my food.
—The Philosophy of Andy Warhol, p.93–94
We’ve posted previously about the turfwars that can develop between pets and home robots. Today’s Wall Street Journal surveys the battleground in a feature titled “When Dogs and Robots Collide, Somebody Needs A Talking To.” From the WSJ:
According to Daphna Nachminovitch of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, introducing robots into a pet household should be done with care. “There’s no way to explain to them that this is not a threat,” she says…
Sympathetic owners sometimes just retire their new purchases. In other cases, the pets take matters into their own paws. Peter Haney, a university administrator in Lethbridge, Alberta, twice found his Roomba in pieces after letting it clean while his flat-coated retrievers, Macleod and Tima, had the run of the house. “No one is talking,” he says…
“It comes up constantly,” says Nancy Dussault Smith, a spokeswoman for iRobot Corp., in Bedford, Mass., which makes the Roomba. “Dogs, cats, all animals, they have their own personalities, so they all react differently to the robots.”
IRobot tested its Roomba designs with pets, she added, incorporating safety measures in the motorized disc-shaped cleaner such as automatic deactivation when it is flipped over or sat on.