Check in with your dog at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and your pooch will get first-class treatment: a personalized doggie biscuit (name emblazoned in icing), a custom bed and a can of pink hotel-logo tennis balls. But when it comes to flying, "first class" has not really existed for pets.
United is hoping to change that. The airline just announced the opening of a first-class style kennel at O’Hare for pets who are too big to fly in the cabin. Similar to facilities in the airline’s Newark and Houston hubs, O’Hare’s PetSafe kennel promises 28 clean, ventilated and temperature-controlled enclosures, comfy vans that will chauffeur critters to their flights, and staffers who will exercise your pet and, according to the release, “provide grooming and bathing on request” (presumably your request, not Sparky’s).
“The comfort and care provided by our dedicated PetSafe team offers our customers peace of mind whether they are shipping their pets or traveling with them,” United’s Vice President of Cargo Robbie Anderson said in the release.
To be fair, United does not have a perfect record with transporting pets: this past March, the airline made headlines when it mistakenly shipped a woman’s English springer spaniel to Dublin, instead of his intended (and not-so-easily-confused) destination of Phoenix.
Meanwhile, having your pet actually ride with you in business or first class may be another matter—especially if your flight features flat-bed seats, which typically don’t accommodate under-seat pet carriers. One blog recently applauded American and Swiss Air for figuring out ways to welcome pets in the flat-bed zones—but on other airlines (including United), you and your chihuahua may find yourselves both getting booted back to coach.