Bark Air is a new dog-first airline that will pamper your pup

By Tori Latham 29 May, 2024

Bark Air is hoping that it can revolutionise air travel to be less stressful and more luxurious for our canine companions

If you ask me, Crouton, my 3ish-year-old terrier mix, certainly deserves to fly in the lap of luxury. And thanks to Bark Air, now she can.

The dog-first airline, whose inaugural flight takes off Thursday, is adapting all of the benefits of public charter air travel so that they cater specifically to Spot—and his human, too. Crouton and I got a sneak peek of one of the company’s Gulfstream G5s earlier this week, and the appeal of Bark Air’s “white-paw experience,” as it says, was clear.

“What we say is first class for the dog, business class for the human,” Matt Meeker, cofounder and CEO of Bark, told me aboard the plane. “What we’ve seen is if our primary focus is making the dog happy, then the human will be very happy.”

Crouton aboard the Bark Air plane (toy included). Photo by Tori Latham

Watching Crouton play with a “Dog Perignon” Champagne-bottle dog toy while Meeker and I chatted, I could see how that could be the case. Even before boarding the aircraft, which is meant to fit 10 dogs of all sizes and their human companions, the pups are appropriately pampered. A Bark Air concierge reaches out to each passenger to collect info about their dog; then, upon their arrival at the airport one hour before takeoff, the dogs can socialize with one another before their flight.

On board, the cabin is filled with items that help ease dog anxiety, like soothing music and lavender-scented towels. Treats are plentiful, with Bark’s own concoctions available alongside “doggie Champagne” (chicken broth) and “barkaccinos” (cups of whipped cream). Humans are served meals created by chef David Burke at the airport, while people-friendly snacks and drinks are available during the flight. But Bark Air is really meant to make air travel more accessible and less stressful for our canine friends.

“The first order is to reduce the stress and anxiety for the dog,” Meeker said. During the test runs, “the dogs made it their own flight. They took over and they started sitting in the chairs and it was so magical. They just mixed and matched, and people fell in love with other people’s dogs.”

Bark Air’s “doggie Champagne”. Photo by Tori Latham

To begin, Bark Air is flying from New York to London and Los Angeles, with plans to expand routes in the future, potentially to cities like Paris, Chicago, and Florida, Meeker said. Already, the company has had more than 15,000 submissions for routes that passengers would like to see. But even with the limited stops—and the ticket price, which runs US$6,000 for a dog and a human to travel to LA, and US$8,000 for the trip to London—Bark Air is already seeing demand for its Fido-friendly approach.

“In the first month or so here, we’ve sold a good number of tickets,” Meeker said. “And to some notable people that you would assume could charter the whole jet, but they’re choosing this.”

Crouton, the sassy diva that she is, seemed right at home aboard the Bark Air plane, even though we didn’t actually take off or travel anywhere. And Meeker’s right: Seeing her enjoying herself so much made the experience even better for me. Traveling with a pet isn’t easy, but Bark Air is making the process a little bit simpler and a whole lot more luxe. Crouton and I will be celebrating that with some Champagne—the doggie variety for her, of course.

This was first published on Robb Report USA