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Last Updated: Thursday, 8 May, 2003, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Free flights for feline flyers
First dog with passport
Frodo Baggins, the first dog to get a passport
Pets with passports will soon be able to rack up their own air miles.

And they will be able to exchange them for free flights and pampering sessions just like their owners.

Virgin Atlantic unveiled the plans as it announced it is to allow cats and dogs to travel on some of its scheduled long-haul flights.

From mid-May they will be able to travel on flights between Los Angeles and Heathrow, and the scheme could be extended to include the rest of America, Japan, Antigua and Barbados by January next year.

It is the first airline to make use of the pet passport scheme (Pets) on scheduled flights.

Pets was introduced in 2000 and allows domestic animals to travel in and out of the UK to rabies-free countries without going into quarantine for six months.

As we expect some pets to be regular travellers with us we'll be introducing a special 'pet miles' section
Richard Branson

They have to be fitted with a micro-chip, be vaccinated against rabies, blood tested, have a Pets certificate and have been treated for tapeworm and tick.

It applies at the moment to animals travelling from most of Europe, from North America and from a number of long-haul countries.

Virgin chairman Sir Richard Branson said: "On average 250 cats and dogs travel to the UK from the US each month and I hope that we will see this figure double as more airlines sign up to the scheme.

Diseases

"As we expect some pets to be regular travellers with us we'll be introducing a special 'pet miles' section of the airline's Flying Club to reward frequent flying animals."

Virgin said it was in talks with its existing rewards partners to come up with deals for pets.

There were fears in March that some animals being brought into the UK under the scheme were bringing potentially serious diseases with them.

Vets found a "significant" number of dogs in particular were infected with exotic diseases.




SEE ALSO:
UK 'should monitor wildlife health'
10 May 01  |  Science/Nature
Pet passports scheme extended
02 Aug 00  |  UK News
Frodo bags first pet passport
28 Feb 00  |  UK News
Pet passports let in diseases
08 Mar 03  |  Science/Nature


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