The pet travel niche keeps growing, and that’s very good news for travel affiliates.  A new airline, Pet Airways, is set to begin its scheduled “pawssenger” service on July 14th, and the travel affiliate channel is a key element of their distribution strategy.

TravelDividends wrote about the growing travel affiliate sales opportunities in the pet travel niche in an earlier blog post; that post focused on pet-friendly travel agencies and lifestyle magazines.  Pet Airways takes the pet travel niche to new heights (figuratively and literally) by offering a pet-only airline that promises to “Give your pet a first-class travel experience!”    Here’s a sampling of the services that will be available on the ground as well as in the air on any of the converted 19-passenger Beech 1900 turbo-props that will be sporting Pet Airways‘ colors on their ‘tails’:

  • Owners drop-off their pets at the airport ‘Pet Lounge’ 2 hours before departure
  • Pets are boarded onto the plane by ‘Pet Attendants’
  • The main cabin is lighted and climate controlled, and has been reconfigured to hold 50 pets
  • Each pet is in their own comfortable, secured proprietary pet carrier designed and created by Pet Airways
  • During the flight, the ‘Pet Attendant’ monitors the pets every 15 minutes (including providing each pet appropriate ‘potty breaks’, as needed)
  • If the owner wants to drop-off or pick-up their pets earlier or later than the appointed departure and arrival times, arrangements can be made to board their pets at Pet Airways’ ‘PAWS Lounge’ for an additional fee
  • Owners can monitor their pet’s journey online, using Pet Airways’ Pet Tracker

The brainchild of Dan Wiesel, and amateur plane builder and pilot, and his wife Alysa Binder, a start-up recruiter and Silicon Valley consultant, Pet Airways is initiating weekly service from the following airports / major metropolitan areas:

  • Teterboro Airport (New York City, Northern New Jersey, Philadelphia)
  • Baltimore/Washington International Airport (Washington, DC, Baltimore, Richmond)
  • Palwaukee/Chicago Executive Airport (Chicago, Milwaukee)
  • Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport (Denver, Colorado Springs, Ft Collins)
  • Hawthorne Municipal Airport/Los Angeles Executive Airport (Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego).

Most scheduled U.S. carriers charge between $100 to $200 fee to transport pets, either stowed under the passenger’s seat, or in the cargo hold; Pet Airways’ standard one-way fare is currently pegged at $250, though promotional fares are also available.  The start-up believes that there are many pet owners willing to pay the price differential to transport pets in a secure, comfortable and safe manner.

But what, you may ask, is the value proposition for travel affiliates?  What’s in it for me?  The answer is pretty simple: Pet Airways’ travel affiliate commission program is superior to travel affiliate programs offered by most passenger airlines!  Take a look at the major components of Pet Airways’ travel affiliate commission scheme:

Membership Sales

  • $5 commission per sale for monthly sales of $1 – $749
  • $7 commission per sale for monthly sales of $750 – $1,499
  • $9 commission per sale for monthly sales over $1,500

Ticket Sales

  • 4% commission per sale for monthly sales of $1 – $9,999
  • 5% commission per sale for monthly sales of $10,000 – $19,999
  • 6% commission per sale for monthly sales over $20,000

And if you compare the average U.S. passenger domestic itinerary fare for the fourth quarter 2008 in the same markets that Pet Airways will be operating from, with Pet Airways’ standard $250 fare, you can see that as a travel affiliate, selling pet airfares isn’t ‘dog food’:

  • Chicago area: $338.08
  • Los Angeles area: $353.62
  • Washington, DC area: $360.60
  • New York City area: $369.46

TravelDividends concurs with Pet Airways contention that they have hit upon a winning business model.  Frankly, we believe that given the sorry state of the U.S. airline industry, the in-flight service on Pet Airways is likely to be far superior to what two-legged travelers receive in the main cabins of most scheduled carriers (but that’s a story for a future blog post).  To the former point, here are some additional statistics which we think point positively to the potential success of Pet Airways – despite having launched their website last September, 2008:

  • Pet Airways has already registered more than 2,000 followers on Twitter and boasts some 5,000 fans on Facebook
  • Alexa shows them holding a rank of 140,566, while gives them a rank of 31,494, with some 63,845 monthly unique visitors (and growing)

So, once again, TravelDividends reiterates our strong belief in the future prospects of this super-travel niche.  We’re curious if any of our travel affiliate readers have joined Pet Airways’ travel affiliate program.  If you have, please share your experience with us…we’d love to hear from you.  Thanks!