With its dog-first philosophy, Bark Air will offer a VIP air travel experience for canines and their human companions. Rose Dykins reports

Canine carrier Bark has partnered with a jet charter company to launch Bark Air, the world’s first air travel experiences designed specifically for dogs first and their human companions second.

With its mission to “make all dogs happy” Bark wants to offer air travel that enables dogs and their owners to travel together comfortably and conveniently. Bookings are now available at dogsflyfirst.com, with the first flights taking off from New York on Thursday May 23, 2024.

Bark Air seeks to address the challenges of travelling long distances with a dog, particularly larger breed that don’t fit into a carrier that can be placed under the plane seat in front. Dogs are often denied travel or they endure the stress of flying in cargo. Bark AirBark Air is responding to the growing demand for an accessible solution, presenting a more fun and humane option for dogs travelling with their owners. It promises a dog-first philosophy and an award-winning customer experience.

Bark Air will adapt a typical first class air travel experience and treat dogs like VIPs when they fly at all stages of their journey. After booking their flight, customers will be contacted by a Bark Air concierge to collect information about each dog and their human’s travel plans to ensure the best possible experience.Bark AirOn the day of travel, dogs and their owners will arrive at the airport 45-60 minutes before take-off for a simple check-in process. At this stage, dogs will also be able to meet other canine companions on their flight, while their owners are served dinner. The process will be free from crates and stressful checkpoints or screening procedures.

Before boarding, a skilled Bark Air concierge will welcome dogs at the gate to help them relax into their experience. The concierge will also evaluate each dog to make sure they are enjoying their experience so far and adapting to the new environment, noting whether they’ll need additional care or attention.

The plane will be prepared with a “Dogs Fly First” approach, with calming  pheromones, music, and colours that dogs prefer. All canine passengers will have access to treats, noise-cancelling ear muffs, and soothing jackets to ensure a stress-free and enjoyable flight. Bark AirOnce onboard, dogs will be served their beverage of choice during ascent and descent to ensure they do not experience any ear discomfort commonly caused by changes in cabin pressure. A variety of Bark-branded treats, snacks, and surprises will be provided throughout the flight.

Launch routes for Bark Air will serve the New York City metro area via Westchester County airport with flights to the Los Angeles area via Van Nuys and London via Stansted airport. An Argus Platinum-rated charter company is responsible for all aircraft, crew, maintenance, and insurance-related matters, while Bark is focused on creating and delivering a world-class air travel experience for dogs and their people.

By launching Bark Air, Bark seeks to raise the profile of its overall offering and products for dog-owners, with a travel concept that shows it understands its consumers.

Matt Meeker, co-founder and CEO at Bark, says: “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. 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.

“We believe this initiative will elevate awareness of our brand’s mission and values, introduce more dog lovers to the Bark family, and help enrich the lives of dogs and their people around the world.”

Zahir Ibrahim, chief financial officer at Bark, says: “We believe this initiative will raise awareness of Bark’s mission in a cost-effective manner. Given 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.”