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A new ultra-luxe U.S. airline that specifically caters for dogs using Gulfstream private jets to fly between New York and Los Angeles and London is facing its first lawsuit just days after its first canine customers boarded the inaugural flight.

The snappily named Bark Air is what is known as a public charter operator, which means that it doesn’t own any planes, but it sells tickets on shared services operated by New York-based Talon Air.

Talon is operating the dog-friendly flights on behalf of Bark using a fleet of 14-seater Gulfstream private jets, and that’s upset Westchester County, which owns Westchester County Airport (HPN) from where Bark operates out of for its New York flights.

Westchester County Airport has a terminal building with four gates and three independent fixed-based operators, which are essentially remote stands which allow passengers to bypass the terminal building.

The advantage for airlines of using the remote stands is that the charges are a lot lower than using the terminal building. But Westchester is trying to force any air operator that uses aircraft with more than nine passenger seats to go through the terminal building – and, therefore, pay higher fees.

In a recent filing in a New York district court, Westchester County has argued that the rule applies whether the seats are being occupied by humans or dogs. Bark Air has, however, declined to use the passenger terminal and now faces being slapped with an injunction if Westchester County wins its lawsuit.

The lawsuit was filed just seven days after Bark Air operated its first revenue service on May 23.

Onboard, Bark Air offers space for up to 15 dogs and human companions, with no size or breed restrictions. In fact, Bark Air says it sells tickets for a canine passenger, and their human companion gets to fly for free.

The ratio of dogs to humans could vary because some owners might choose to send their dogs without a companion. So there could be eight dogs and seven humans onboard, or the plane could be full of 15 dogs.

Each ticket only includes space for one human companion, but space permitting, additional human tickets can be purchased at an extra cost.

Given that flying with a dog commercially can be a pretty daunting experience, Bark Air could be an attractive proposition for the well-heeled. There are no carrier or crate requirements, dogs don’t have to be leashed, and the plane will be kitted out with toys, blankets, treats and soothing aids to make flying as pleasant an experience as possible for even the most nervous of pooches.

This level of luxury does, though, come at a pretty eyewatering price, with one-way tickets between New York and Los Angeles selling for as much as $6,000. Bark Air doesn’t shy away from the fact that the service is expensive, but the company has ambitions to scale its service, and prices should, eventually, start to fall.

It just has to resolve this lawsuit first.

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Mateusz Maszczynski

Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt’s industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.

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