People Are Renting Private Planes for Their Pets, Here's Why

The city's strict COVID mandates are keeping pets off commercial flights.

"Private jet for your pet" may sound glamorous, but for some Hong Kong animal owners, it's just the cost of trying to leave.

As CNN reports, many people who are moving away from Hong Kong are struggling to secure flights for their furry companions, and they're turning to private jet services as a result. To cover costs, pet parents are banding together online to pool money to charter planes.

Travel to and from Hong Kong is pretty sticky at the moment. The region has some of the world's strictest policies, with non-residents totally banned from the city and returning residents forced to quarantine for three weeks in designated hotels. Even people are facing long waits for flights.

Olga Radlynska, the founder and director of Top Stars Air, a Hong Kong-based private aviation company, told CNN that the company has pivoted away from traditional travel and mainly focuses on group pet rentals. "People have to move one way, and they have to move the pets." She also added that pet transportation has gone up "700%" since the beginning of the pandemic.

Another private jet company, L'voyage, has shifted to transporting pets more than people out of Hong Kong. The company's CEO, Jolie Howard, told CNN that "Pets are part of the family," she also added that "A lot of people are waiting 12 months for a flight. From what I understand, there are a few thousand animals (in Hong Kong) waiting to get on flights to their owners."

Cats and dogs aren't the only animals in need of transport. Radlynska said she has also filled requests for hamsters and rabbits. Pet parent pleas are growing more urgent following the city's move to euthanize thousands of small animals after one case of COVID-19 was linked to a pet store hamster earlier this month.

According to Howard, private companies are great for transporting animals, as each pet has specific needs, and commercial airlines can't always assist customers with pets.

Radlynska's website shows what every pet needs to travel, including a pet passport, certificate of microchips, and rabies and tapeworm vaccination certificates. According to the website, pets will even have time to get acquainted with the crew so they can feel more comfortable flying.

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Janae Price is a News Staff Writer at Thrillist. She's a native New Yorker and loves all things cheese, K-pop, and culture. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @janae_larie.