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Bark Ups the Ante in Petcare with Debut of Airline for Dogs

Bark Air, an airline for dogs, makes its debut.
Image courtesy Bark

Omnichannel dog brand Bark has partnered with a jet charter company to launch Bark Air, an air travel experience designed “for dogs first and their human companions second.”

Bark Air aims to take the white glove experience of a human’s first-class flight and redirect all that pampering to pooches — from booking and arrival to in-flight services and disembarkation, dogs will be the VIPs and treated to a “luxurious, curated experience.”

Premium flights for dogs and their humans are now available for booking, with the first flights taking off from New York on May 23, 2024. At launch, routes will serve the New York City metro area via Westchester County Airport (HPN), with flights to the Los Angeles area via Van Nuys (VNY) and London via Stansted Airport (STN). An Argus Platinum-rated charter company will be responsible for all aircraft, crew, maintenance and insurance-related matters, while Bark will handle the travel experience. Each plane will accommodate approximately 10 dogs and their human companions.

“When we started Bark in 2011, we were on a mission to disrupt the dog space and create products designed for dogs and their humans,” said Matt Meeker, Co-founder and CEO of Bark in a statement. “We are excited to take the insights we’ve learned over the years to create an experience that is truly dog-first, which is drastically different from just accepting dogs — from the ground to the skies.”

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Following booking, a Bark Air concierge will contact humans to collect information about each dog and their human’s travel plans to help ensure the best possible experience. On travel day, dogs and their companions will arrive at the airport 45 to 60 minutes before takeoff for check-in, during which dogs can meet other furry friends on their flight while their people are treated to meals prepared by onsite chefs. Most importantly, the whole process foregoes crates as well as TSA checkpoints and screenings.

Before boarding, a Bark Air concierge will welcome dogs at the gate to help them settle into their experience through socialization and dog-centric cabin preparation. The concierge also will evaluate each dog to ensure they are adapting to the new environment and assess if additional attention and care is needed prior to boarding or once on board.

Each plane will be treated to a “Dogs Fly First” flight prep with calming pheromones, music and colors that pups prefer. All furry passengers will have access to various aids such as calming treats, noise-canceling earmuffs and calming jackets to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable flight.

Once onboard, dogs will be served their beverage of choice during ascent and descent to ensure they do not experience any of the ear discomfort commonly with the changes in cabin pressure. Additionally, a variety of Bark-branded treats, snacks and surprises will be provided throughout the flight, with the intent of pampering furry passengers and their humans.

All this white-glove pampering won’t come cheap — flights from NYC to London in May are currently posted at about $8,000 for one dog and their human companion, with flights from NYC to LA running at around $6,000.

As to the question of why, Bark CFO Zahir Ibrahim said in a statement: “We believe this initiative will raise awareness of Bark’s mission in a cost-effective manner. Given that we are not committed to booking flights far in advance, we have a lot of flexibility to opportunistically charter flights during times of high demand. In parallel, we believe the additional traffic to Bark.co will raise awareness of our full offering, benefiting our core business in the long term.”

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