Between catering to celebrity clientele at his LA salon, and hosting a home-shopping show at least once a month on the opposite side of the U.S., WEN Hair Care founder Chaz Dean stays busy.
But for Dean, family is just as important as career. That’s why he rarely travels without his four fur babies: Hunter, Spencer, Bella Moon and Riley June, his pet Labrador Retrievers.
The dogs are veterans on the private jet scene, having flown with Dean on various trips for the past six years.
“I love everything about flying privately,” Dean says.
“I like that you’re able to control your environment, whether it be the climate, cuisine, or overall comfort. Flying private also saves so much time. We don’t have to go through TSA, there’s no wait for our baggage, we just drive up to the aircraft, load up the puppies and take off.”
First class for four legs
Dean’s dogs are part of an elite crowd of canine private jet travelers, but they’re certainly not alone. Perhaps most famously, Choupette, the haute kitten belonging to fashion designer Karl Lagerfeld, loves private travel. In 2012, Grazia published images of the cat in the cockpit.
Henry Thompson, CEO of Charter BuNo, says his company flies many passengers with pets, and that the animals receive the same level of service as their human counterparts.
“This could be anything from being sure that the specialty dietary gourmet pet food is the right flavor or brand to making sure that the pet’s seat is properly set up for flight,” Thompson says.
“Inflight puppy massage, inflight grooming, and real grass turf poop and pee boxes are some of the other luxuries that pampered pets may experience.”
‘Your life jacket is under your basket’
More businesses are sprouting up to cater specifically to the unique demands of four-legged fliers.
Veteran flight attendant Carol Martin noticed a need early on and launched Sit ‘n Stay Global, a company that provides charter crew specially trained in pet safety procedures, as well as on-site pet nannies.
“I designed bracing positions based on what we do for infants and then I went and got the oxygen masks that firefighters use for animals, flotation devices – all the things we carry for humans – and then got certified in pet first aid and CPR,” Martin says.
That came in handy when Martin had to perform the Heimlich maneuver in-flight when a dog started choking on a piece of bone.
While Martin says dogs are the most common animals she’s caters for on private jets, cats and ferrets are also frequent guests.
She also handles more unusual requests, especially in the Middle East.
“I’ve been on private jets where falcons flew free in the cabin,” Martin says. “I also have a regular client in Dubai who flies me over to tend to his goat. He likes to have fresh goat’s milk wherever he goes and it’s my job to milk it in the back of the plane.”
All animals have to be documented on the flight manifest, including their size and weight.
Sometimes cages are required, but if the pets are well-behaved and familiar with air travel then they are often allowed to roam freely.
From time to time, you even get some animals who take a keen interest in aviation, says Timothy Griffin, a private jet captain. He once flew five Bullmastiffs – each weighing 125 pounds.
“Mid-flight I turned around after hearing a sound in the cockpit only to find one of the dogs panting, and taking in the sights,” Griffin says.
For Dean’s Labradors, flying has now become old hat.
“My dogs behave ridiculously amazing on flights,” he says.
“As soon as they get on the plane, they find their seat and settle in. They only move once we land and the doors to the plane open. They are never flustered or affected when food is served by the crew, nor during takeoff and landing.”