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Two new private jet companies are competing for the pleasure of ferrying your furballs around the world.

It’s Fido’s world and we just live in it. In the past year, not one but two private charter companies have opened to transport man (or woman’s) best friend in the style which most owners would agree they deserve.

K9 Jets took its first flight in 2021 and so far, has successfully manned over 100 flights and delivered more than 1,000 passengers—both four-legged and two—safely to their destinations. The idea came to British-based founder Adam Golder while he was furloughed from his job in media advertising during the pandemic.

An amateur pilot himself—he got hooked in 2000 when a friend took him on a helicopter ride and he signed up for flying lessons the next day—Golder adored aviation, and began licensing private jets as a way to make ends meet.

Pet travel is big business. Four million domestic pets are transported around the world every year.

Golder had a client who wanted to fly private from London to New York with his dog during the pandemic, but was looking to share the cost of the plane. Using a Facebook group, Golder found nine dog owners who were willing to come on board. Demand took off from there.

K9 Jets was created in July 2022. “Overnight we had about half a million in sales,” says Golder. “We realized we had an incredible market.” They swiftly added a Paris-to-New York route and now list 13 destinations on their website. “In the next few months we will have at least 16 per month to places as far flung as Dubai and Melbourne.”

Woman sitting on a plane looking out of the window with a dog on her lap
Why put your pooch in the hold when you can snuggle up mid air? K9 Jets founder Adam Golder believes his service is comparable to cargo pet transport options—and much more relaxing and enjoyable. Photo courtesy of K9 Jets

K9 Jets doesn’t actually own any aircraft. They use Gulfstream G4 planes that are operated by licensed U.S. air carriers, including Pegasus Elite Aviation. The aircraft can accommodate 10 passengers. There is room for more but they won’t sell to maximum capacity to be sure there is plenty of room for the canine passengers to flop down in the aisles.

Pet travel is big business. Four million domestic pets are transported around the world every year. But it can be so bureaucratically onerous, many owners will hire professional pet transport companies to handle all the paperwork.

Golder acknowledges that the price of his around $9,000 ticket for New York to London (one passenger plus one pet) is hardly cheap. But he makes the case that with the 400 percent cargo shipping price hike by IAG Cargo as of March 1st (which helps transport pets for many airlines, including British Airways) flying private with your pet might work out to be comparable. Before the increase, according to sources in the New York Times, shipping a cat or a small dog would cost about $1,500. Now, that price has risen to about $4,400.

Owners of larger dogs will feel an even bigger pinch. To fly a Labrador may cost in the region of $15,000.

In addition to the financial considerations, Golder believes there has been a psychological shift in the way we treat our pets which will shift people to consider the private option. A recent story in Wall Street Journal proves his point about a couple who put their $14.95 million Sag Harbor house on the market because their goldendoodle, Rufus, would get a little “pouty” when he was there.

Dalmatian boarding a private jet with its owner following
Flights depart from private terminals, so there are no queues for security or customs. Passengers—human and canine alike—are asked to arrive a hour before departure.
Table set with glasses of champagne in the interior of a private jet used for passengers and their dogs
Once on board, there’s champagne, meals, and an open bar for you; treats and balls for your canine companion. Photo courtesy of K9 Jets
Black and white dog sitting on a blanket on a seat in an airplane
You can sit back and relax, knowing your pup will be treated to VIP (Very Important Pet) service. A meet and greet before takeoff ensures personality clashes are avoided. Photo courtesy of K9 Jets

Over 75 percent of K9 clients are people relocating for jobs or retiring abroad, with the other 25 percent visiting friends or family for an extended period. Who doesn’t know someone who drives their pets across the country to visit family or moves the whole family en masse by car for the beginning of summer vacation?

The experience for travelers is made as seamless as possible.

Owners and pets are asked to turn up at least an hour before the flight to meet their seat mates. If there is, as Golder puts it, “the odd flash of personality” before the flight, then pups and people are moved to a different part of the aircraft before take-off. (I wish they did this at human drinks and dinner parties).

As far as toiletry concerns go, everyone “goes” just before takeoff and emergency pads are on hand should any accidents occur. No amorous activity is allowed. If a dog is in heat, they will be provided with special diapers and sequestered away from potential suitors on the other side of the plane. All pets must have a muzzle with them out of precaution and bring a leash on board.

The service has been so successful that just a few weeks ago, a rival company, BarkAir, launched.

Snacks and balls are provided for four-legged passengers; champagne, an evening meal and breakfast are given to their human owners. There is an open bar and, while the seats do not fully recline as they would in a commercial business/first class seat, Golder books G4 and G5s—which are certainly very comfortable.

There are no height or weight restrictions, Golder says K9 has flown Great Danes and other large breeds in the past. All animals need a current health and rabies certificate as well as a tapeworm parasite tablet five days before takeoff. (Gone are the days of lengthy quantines when traveling between the U.S. and U.K.)

The service has been so successful that just a few weeks ago, a rival company, BarkAir, launched, offering flights from London to New York and New York to L.A. A promotional video shows an exaggerated in-flight experience for entertainment purposes—the dogs being served sneakers from a silver tray and movies of squirrels, as well as what looks like champagne being poured into a crystal bowl. (It’s actually beef broth). The size of the plane featured is questionable, the video shows a 747 which is larger than the International Air Transportation Association (IATA) allows—but it’s definitely an entertaining watch. A spokesperson for Bark Air says, “Our hero video represents our vision for the future—what flying with your dog should be like.”

The private pet jet market may be a dog-eat-dog world, but we bet this one percent travel trend is about to really take off.

Hero photo courtesy of K9 Jets

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