Bark Air, A New Airline for Dogs, Took Its First Flight from New York

Nevena Nacic
by Nevena Nacic

Flying with a dog in the first class may sound like a dream for many pet parents. But, Bar Air, a new luxury airline has turned that dream into reality. 

The company describes itself as “the world’s first travel experience designed specifically for dogs first, and their human companions second.”

The luxury airline took its first flight on Thursday, May 23, departing from New York and landing in Los Angeles. The inaugural flight transported six dogs of varying sizes - from a tiny Chihuahua to a golden retriever - and 11 humans, both passengers and crew. 

Before boarding concierges offered the dogs calming treats, noise-canceling ear muffs, and calming jackets to ensure a pleasant and stress-free flight. 

Once on the flight, the pups were served their beverage of choice during the ascent and descent and could munch on special cupcakes during the flight. Once in the air, dogs could enjoy a spa treatment and were offered blankets covered with pheromones for extra comfort.

The crew is trained in dog CPR and fear-free behavioral practices to ensure the safety of four-legged travelers. 

The new airline is a subsidiary of Bark, a company behind several dog-focused brands, including the subscription service Bark Box. The company’s co-founder and CEO, Matt Meeker he’d been working on this idea for more than a decade.

The company shared details of the inaugural flight in an Instagram post, writing: “Right now, at an altitude of 30,000 feet, there is a flight filled with dogs. Unlike any flight before it, these dogs are not merely an afterthought, nor are they treated like cargo or a burden to the crew and fellow travelers. Here dogs are the foremost priority.”

“Every detail of this flight experience has been crafted with a ‘dog’s first’ mindset. It has taken 10 years, but we are finally confident that we can provide all dogs with the air travel experience they deserve: one that puts them first.”

The inaugural flight was sold out, even though tickets weren’t cheap. Tickets for Bark Air flights from New York to Los Angeles cost $6,000 for one dog and one human in each direction, and one-way flights from New York to London cost $8,000. 

Many pet parents quickly pointed out that the cost is too high, but Meeker already acknowledged that in a May letter. “This is cost-prohibitive for most families, but less expensive than most options today. And this is also how most innovative products and services began,” he wrote. 

Televisions, telephones, VCRs and DVD players, to automobiles, train and boat travel, and yes, even human air travel - all of these started with very high prices until demand was proven and the cost could be brought lower by serving the masses.”

The new airline has no size or breed restrictions for dogs, but humans must be over 18. Humans are advised to keep their dogs leashed as much as possible, once on board, and to ask before approaching other passengers. 

Meeker, who traveled with his dog on two recent test flights, said that people hoped dogs would misbehave for the sake of the experiment, but they did no such thing. Even in moments of significant turbulence, all canine passengers remained undisturbed.

I don’t know why I’m surprised by this, but the dogs made it magical,” he said.

The initial reaction to Bark Air has been extremely pawsitive. The company currently offers four round-trip cross-country flights a month but plans to expand its routes, starting with a New York to Paris trip beginning this fall. 

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Nevena Nacic
Nevena Nacic

Nevena is a freelance writer and a proud mom of Teo, a 17-year-old poodle, and Bob, a rescued grey tabby cat. Since childhood, she had a habit of picking up strays and bringing them home (luckily, her parents didn't know how to say NO). When she's not writing for her fellow pet parents, Nevena can be found watching Teo sleep. To her defense, that's not as creepy as it sounds!

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