by Robert Frank – The WALL STREET JOURNAL blog
Automotive execs might still be wary of flying on private-jets. But demand for flying private seems to be on the rise for another, more-selective segment of the traveling population: pets.
Brian Fiske, founder of PetJets.Net, a charter brokerage service for pets and owners, said he has been flooded with calls in the past month by pet owners wanting to book private-jet flights for their pets.
The main reason is the recent news of seven puppies dying in the cargo hold on an American Airlines flight.
Not that PetJets is trying to exploit the news. But Mr. Fiske said that since many of the callers were new to private charters, and were surprised at the high costs, he decided to try to expand the program and make it affordable to more pet owners.
The result is PetJet Pals Program. PetJet Pals lets people who want to fly private with their pets to share the ride and costs with other pet owners. It is like many of the other ride-share programs that have sprouted in recent years, except this one is solely for people who flying with pets.
Mr. Fiske uses technology that finds discounted flights on pet-friendly private jets and matches them with pet owners who are interested in a similar flight itinerary.
A jet flight from New York to Florida that could cost $10,000 to $20,000 a person could cost half that if the ride is shared by two pet owners and even less if there are four pet owners.
Making sure the owners are compatible to fly is easy. Making sure the pets are compatible is more complicated. Mr. Fiske says he has had requests to fly all manner of dogs, cats, birds and even horses (which, he had to explain to the owner, can’t fit in the cabin).
And you don’t want a cat or dog fight at 40,000 feet.
“We ask if the pet has ever flown before, and discuss the history of the pet to make sure they’ll all get along,” he says.
How much would you pay to fly your pet private?