Luxury travel for pampered pets
ABU DHABI // Luxury travel is no longer exclusively for wealthy people. Pampered pooches and coddled cats are also being spoiled with top-of-the-line VIP services that would leave most humans salivating with envy.
A group of corporate flight attendants in California launched Sit ‘n Stay Global offering high-end services catering to the jet-set pet’s every whim.
“I would say that about 50 per cent of our clientele make the decision to fly private solely based on the comfort of their pet,” said Carol Martin, the company’s co-founder. “They may feel that they could fly first class for less and be comfortable, but for a large dog or certain breeds or animals that is not feasible. These clients choose to fly private so they may have their pet in the cabin with them in a non-stressful environment that is safe and secure.”
Rotana Jet and Royal Air in the UAE acknowledged having an undisclosed number of clients who charter private jets just so that they could travel together with their beloved pets in luxurious comfort.
In the United States, luxury air travel company Blue Star Jets has partnered with a celebrity veterinarian to create JetSetVets to provide in-flight veterinary services for pets.
“The growing demand from clients for more intricate pet services — whether in-flight or travel-related — led to the development of JetSetVets,” according to bluestarjets.com. “Many clients experience medical issues with their pets while travelling with them and need veterinary care.”
Another American company, petjets.com, “provides pet air transportation solutions for pet owners via consulting, networking and educational services.”
The luxury pet travel market is such that there is a book on the topic, “The Dog Lovers Guide to Travel,” published by the National Geographic and written by Kelly Carter, who also runs a website dedicated to pet pampering called thejetsetpets.com.
Mrs Martin, whose services cost US$600 (Dh2,202) per day plus expenses, said her company is called upon to offer assistance to elite pets about four times a month, on average. Her clients come from all over the world, including the UAE.
“We have a few clients in the UAE, this is where we have our more exotic animals, typically,” said Mrs Martin. “One of my clients likes to travel with his own goat for fresh goat milk. She is very calm in flight and a delight to fly with. I have also had falcons on board.”
Sit ‘n Stay Global staff come equipped with a pet oxygen mask and appropriately-sized pet life jacket and a safety harness so the pet is secured during take-off, landing and turbulent spells.
“This is the minimum safety equipment for each human on board, why wouldn’t we be prepared to assist our pet passenger in the same way?” said Mrs Martin.
The company also offers in-flight catered meals for the animals, according to their dietary needs.
“Each meal is served with the same presentation and flair as the human meals so the mood in the cabin is not broken. The humans and the pets seem to enjoy the attention,” said Mrs Martin. “These pets are family members in the eyes of these people. To check them in baggage would be similar to asking someone else to check their child in the baggage compartment. If they have the means and can fly on a private jet, why not bring their entire family?”