Everyone likes to travel and see the world; however, when planning a trip, we often think of our furry loved ones before we travel and how difficult it is to leave our pets behind. Many people book a sitter or check their fur baby into a pet hotel. For others, the only right decision is to take our beloved pets with us.
General Manager at the private jet company, Air Partner Middle East, Jobby George, explains the increasing popularity of traveling with pets as comfort, convenience, flexibility, and safety become crucial for customers in the GCC. “When COVID-19 travel restrictions were more stringent, we saw many new customers flying privately as a solution for flying with their pets. Simultaneously, pet ownership soared during the pandemic, giving children entertainment, companionship for those living alone, and a reason to exercise. As travel restrictions began to lift and holiday bookings surged, more people had to consider what to do with a newly acquired pet.”
While some pets may be light enough (10kg or less) to carry as hand luggage on most airlines, many animal lovers also choose to book their beloved pets in the cargo. But experts say private travel has become more popular with Gulf residents as it allows customers to experience a highly personalised and bespoke service that cannot be matched with commercial flights.
“Access to flexible booking and cancellation options gives customers peace of mind in uncertain times. Private travel also provides higher safety provisions and greater control over the end-to-end environment. Private airports, for example, on average have just 20 touchpoints, compared to almost 700 in commercial airports, greatly reducing any potential infection risk,” adds George.
The other reason many people are turning to such a bespoke service is that traveling with a pet can be a tricky task, especially when you have to consider a variety of things, including their stress levels and the cabin pressure during the flight, which can be very dangerous for some breeds. Then there are also the regulations involved in bringing your pet into a new country. Some countries require certain vaccines, such as rabies, among other strict conditions.
Countries like Australia, Britain, Bahrain, Japan, and New Zealand need pets to have high precautions against rabies. While countries in the EU, the UAE, Qatar, and the US are less strict. Finally, countries such as Jordan and Latin American nations, and some countries in Africa, require only a health certificate and routine vaccines.
“Beyond the paperwork, quarantine restrictions, and separation anxiety, many breeds, particularly snub-nosed dogs and cats like pugs, French Bulldogs, and Burmese cats, are more prone to respiratory problems when traveling in the hold, making the ordeal distressing and potentially dangerous. Flying via private jet ensures pets are free to roam, and owners have peace of mind that their treasured companions are safe and well. We also provide information on the requirements tailored to the client’s destination and country of departure. Once we receive the documentation, we coordinate with the relevant authorities to make sure everything is in order so that our clients have a stress-free journey with their pet by their side,” explains George.
Some highlights on board Air Partner flights include sustainable custom catering and ethical offerings such as spring water and organic pet food. They also provide onboard activities and entertainment, such as treats and toys, so your furry friends can fly in luxury.
As flexible working becomes more commonplace globally, experts expect private jet travel to increase as people can travel more often or use a vacation home for more extended periods. In the UAE, 90 percent of full-time employees want to work either in a hybrid or a fully remote working model in the future, according to a recent Cisco Global Hybrid Work Study.
“What may have previously been a weekend trip to a second home could now be a month-long stay, and owners want their pets by their side. This year, we have already had several bookings for month-long return flights from the UAE. High-Net-Worth Expats (HNWI) are also taking their pets back to their homes in Europe for holidays, and we expect this trend to continue as flexible working arrangements become the norm, shares George.
Air Partner caters to a variety of clients who expect a high standard of service and the personalized care and comfort only found in such a niche industry. “We recently handled a private jet flight from Hawaii to mainland USA for a family of nine, of which eight members were cats. The owner was relocating, and private jet travel meant she could feed and hold her cats through the six-hour flight as she wished. By traveling through private terminals, the owner was also able to avoid long check-in queues and security lines, reducing any unnecessary stress for her favourite felines,” concludes George.
By Hermoine Macura-Noble
The first Australian English speaking News Anchor in the Middle East. She is also the Author of Faces of the Middle East and Founder of US-based 501c3 charity – The House of Rest which helps to ease the suffering of victims of war. For more from our Contributing Editor, you can follow her on Instagram, here.