round Christmas, last year, my wife and I adopted a dog named Lulu from a pet shelter. She had been found on the street, but her condition indicated that she had a previous owner. She was extremely skittish—any loud sound made her jump—and we also noticed that she was nervous about travelling in our car. She had obviously had a bad experience with cars. Perhaps she had to dodge them while crossing a busy road—or perhaps she had made one too many trips to the vet.
Whatever the reason, her fear of cars has not subsided, even after living with us for almost a year. She’s a big dog—a Siberian Husky—and getting her into our car is like getting an elephant into a suitcase. It’s such a struggle that we prefer to just leave her at home when we go anywhere.
If Lulu can barely travel in our car, you can bet that we’d never be able to take her on a plane. As a big dog, she would need to be placed in a crate in the cargo hold. We’d have to give her a tranquiliser of some sort, but the noise of the plane might still send her into a frenzy. I can’t imagine putting her through the stress.
Perhaps if we had a lot of money to spare, we could buy her a seat in business class, like the Indian woman who recently took an Air India flight from Mumbai to Chennai. According to news reports, this wealthy lady didn’t just buy a seat in business class for her pet Maltese, she booked the entire business class cabin.
The plane was an Airbus A321 with 12 business class seats, each of them costing about Rs 20,000. That means that the woman spent almost Rs 2.5 lakh, just so she and her pooch could enjoy the business class cabin in peace. All I can say is, “Lucky dog!”
I’ve never flown business class, but perhaps in my next life, I’ll be a dog. Of course, most dogs never get to fly on a plane, not even SpiceJet. But many do enjoy travel in various forms. A few years ago, a video went viral online showing a Delhi man taking his three dogs on his scooter with him. The middle-aged man was riding a silver scooter with one dog on his lap and the other two balanced on the seat behind him. The dogs looked extremely relaxed, enjoying the ride and the breeze. They were like three kids going to the park with their dad, except with no cellphones in their paws.
“I see this sardar ji very often,” one Facebook user commented. “Every morning he drives with his pets from Laxmi Nagar flyover towards ITO Bridge for last many years.”
While these pets go on the flyover, other pets are flying over. They’re peering down from the window of an Air India flight, saying to themselves, “Ha ha. Those poor dogs have to travel by scooter!”
Air India is apparently the only domestic carrier in India that allows pets in the passenger cabin, no more than two pets per passenger. About 2,000 pets flew Air India between June and September last year, according to a news report. I’m not sure if they were offered any refreshments, but if not, it was a missed opportunity for Air India to boost pet revenue.
I’m fairly certain that the woman who reserved the entire business class cabin ensured that her pooch had a good drink on the trip, if not champagne then at least a bowl of well-chilled Fanta.
My dog, Lulu, will never get to fly business class. But she is quite happy doing her business on the ground.