Road Warrior

Now boarding at Gate 1: Your dogs, cats and other small pets

Harriet Baskas, Special to CNBC
American Airlines’ pet cabin
Source: American Airlines

People fly first class, so why not pampered pets?

That's the idea behind the specially designed travel compartments designed for small dogs and cats on select transcontinental American Airlines flights popular with business travelers and entertainment industry VIPs.

The pet cabins—two per plane—are at the front of the first-class section of the 17 Airbus 321 aircraft the carrier uses on flights between New York's JFK International and both San Francisco and Los Angeles International Airports.

The planes' full lie-flat seats in first class don't allow for under-the-seat storage of a pet carrier during takeoff and landing. Still, "we knew the clientele on these flights would love the ability to travel with small pets in that cabin," said American spokeswoman Barb Delollis. "So during the design process, our team created a ventilated compartment certified for a pet carrier."

For $125 each way, passengers booking first-class tickets may reserve a pet compartment for their furry companion. While pets traveling first class on these flights won't get an amenity kit, Champagne or an oxygen mask in case of emergency, their tickets cost the same as those pets traveling under the seat in coach.

"Obviously, the airline understands the needs of their [first-class] passengers and has compromised by allowing a special space for their pets," said Susan Smith of PetTravel.com. "I think it's great."

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