Virgin Atlantic Airways has taken the concept of the Frequent Flyer programme to new heights with its Flying Paws scheme. Globe-trotting pets are presented with their own passport that gets stamped with a paw print each time they fly, redeemable against future airfares or a range of animal gifts such as bowls or toys.
From the first time they take to the skies, says Virgin, dogs, cats and ferrets (why ferrets we ask) receive an onboard pet pack that includes a Virgin Atlantic collar tag and other goodies, while regular travellers can earn enough stamps to receive grooming, designer label clothing or a personal portrait by a famous animal artist .
There is a more altruistic angle to the programme too - once five stamps (worth ｣50 or around $90) have been gained the money can be donated to a registered animal sanctuary or charity.
The carrier has carried some 3,000 pets since 2003, when pet passports became widely accepted, and has enrolled nearly 1,000 animals in the Flying Paws programme.
Virgin Atlantic is not the first carrier to offer a Frequent Flyer programme for pets. United and Midwest Airlines in the USA, among others, also run schemes whereby pets accrue points each time they travel that can be used as air miles by their owners, but none offer the same rewards for four-legged travellers. Unless you know better?