Bark Air Takes Off to Promote Private Canine Transportation

By T.L. Stanley 

Dogs rule the skies in a one-minute ad for Bark Air, drinking a special blend of bubbly (actually toilet water), getting belly rubs on demand and stretching out for naps with four-times the legroom.

This has to be a parody, right?

Nope, it’s the intro video for Bark’s new business, a collaboration with charter jet service Talon Air. Bark, the company best known for its subscription boxes of toys and treats, launched a campaign this week to promote its super-premium foray into private transportation.


The ad, along with Bark Air’s branding and amenities, comes from agency Tombras, which has also designed billboards to target pet-obsessed consumers on the eve of summer vacation season.

“The hardest part is to convince people this airline is real,” Jeff Benjamin, chief creative officer, told Adweek. “We leaned into that tension.”

In an example of what Benjamin called “Method advertising,” the mini-movie shows a variety of adorable mutts aboard their private jet, traveling like rock stars. The lucky canines are treated to window seats, of course, mouth-watering meals and custom-created in-flight entertainment (think nature programming with lots of squirrels). Eventually, there will be a small-scale dog park on board for mile-high frolicking.

Bark Air has started taking reservations, with one-way and roundtrip flights between New York and Los Angeles, and New York and the U.K. Fares range from $6,000 to $12,000 for each dog, with a “people fly free” policy. The cap will likely be nine or 10 pups per flight, according to the brand.

Bark Air has been on the executive team’s bucket list since the company founding, and the brand had approached a number of airlines about the concept or, at the least, being a preferred partner for dog travel.

“It’s been well over 10 years that we’ve been thinking about this, talking to JetBlue, FedEx, UPS, anybody who flies a plane,” said Dave Stangle, Bark’s vice president of marketing. “They recognize there’s demand, but it’s not high on their priority list.”

With no takers, Bark decided to build their own airline, albeit in partnership with an existing carrier because of complex FAA rules and startup expenses.

Not everyone thinks Bark Air will soar, with its ticket price putting it out of reach for all but the 1%.

“They’ll have 100% share for the two or three people who have nothing better to do with their money,” said Gary Stibel, founder and CEO of the New England Consulting Group who has several decades of experience in the pet industry. “And those people won’t need to do it twice.”

Stibel considers the airline “gimmicky and non-strategic” and wonders if the four-legged passengers will get along in a confined space—or if fur will fly. And then, Stibel said, “That would be a terrible experience for people who are paying through the nose for it.”