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There's a new way to fly with your dog, as Jennifer reports — but it isn't cheap.

Today's newsletter is 1,081 words ... 4 minutes.

1 big thing: Fido's $6,000 plane flight

Dog boarding a Bark Air plane at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, N.Y. Photo: Clifford A. Sobel for Axios

A boutique "dogs first" airline called Bark Air has introduced round-trip service from New York to Los Angeles and London — at $6,000 and $8,000 per ride, respectively.

  • For that price, one human can accompany the canine flyer, who gets spa treatment aboard a private charter jet.
  • No, it's not a joke.

Why it matters: At the same time that many dog owners are seeking full rights for their pets as family members, airlines are cracking down on their rule for emotional support animals.

Dogs and people crowd the cabin of a small jet.
Each Bark Air flight can accommodate up to 10 dogs, and as many people. Photo: Clifford A. Sobel for Axios

Driving the news: Bark Air is a new service from a 12-year-old public company called Bark that also sells dog food and toys, subscription boxes and doggie dental treats.

  • "We've sold well over 100 tickets now," Matt Meeker, the founder and CEO of Bark, tells Axios.
  • The service officially started yesterday.

In the air, each dog gets "lots of belly rubs, a warm facial towel, a grooming, a waterless shampoo and body cleanse, and some nose and paw butter," Meeker said.

  • An in-flight concierge supplies cushions with pheromones to ease canine anxiety.
  • Each flight takes up to 10 passengers with their dogs.
A dog rests its head on the headrest of an airplane seat.
Bark Air is an alternative to a crate in the cargo hold. Photo: Clifford A. Sobel for Axios

What they're saying: "The reception has been really great," said Meeker, who got the idea from trying to fly with his late Great Dane, Hugo. "In our first week, we had over 15,000 requests for new routes."

  • "It's certainly not a lark," he said. "It's something I've been thinking on and working on for over 10 years."
  • He's working to cut the price, but says that the alternatives — which include chartering a private jet or sticking your dog in the cargo hold of a commercial flight — are more expensive or unappealing.
  • "If we do it right, then I think it's a real business."

Zoom in: Customers include celebrities, people moving their households for the summer, and even a military family that's being relocated from the U.S. and has three dogs.

  • Meeker says he's giving that family a military discount.

How it works: For a $6,000-$8,000 ride — or $12,000-$16,000 round-trip — you get a seat for yourself and your dog (or two small dogs).

  • On board, there's a pilot, copilot, flight attendant and concierge — with the latter two trained in dog CPR and canine de-escalation.
  • Bark has partnered with a jet charter company called Talon Air that's based at Republic Airport on Long Island outside New York City. (Actual flights leave from Westchester County Airport.)
  • Dogs need to be on-leash during taxi, takeoff and landing, and "throughout the flight need to be under control of their person," Meeker said.
The CEO of Bark Air shows off doughnut-shaped dog treats to dogs in an airplane.
Matt Meeker, CEO of Bark and its Bark Air service, shows a plate of in-flight treats to canine passengers. Photo: Clifford A. Sobel for Axios

Fun(nish) fact: To dramatize the discomfort of a dog flying in a plane's cargo hold, Meeker shut himself in a dog crate and flew from Florida to New York.

  • The experience is "pretty frightening," particularly for a dog — who doesn't understand the loud runway noises, sudden darkness or extreme temperature changes, Meeker said.

Where it stands: Under Transportation Department rules that took effect in 2021, only "only emotional support dogs that meet strict service animal standards" are allowed to fly in the cabin with their owners, per NPR.

  • Chartering a flight to fly solo with your pet would cost perhaps ten times the ticket price that Bark Air is charging, said Meeker.
  • For now, he said, Bark Air is just passing along its costs to customers, not marking up the flights.

Zoom out: Meeker's company, whose signature product is a monthly BarkBox full of toys and treats, describes itself as "a leading global omnichannel dog brand with a mission to make all dogs happy."

  • "We've served over 7 million customers over the years, and as you talk to those people, this comes up a lot as something that's a real struggle," Meeker said, referring to air travel with one's pet.
  • The luxurious trappings, he said, are part of the company's "dogs first" philosophy.

The bottom line: "What we sell is awesome emotional experiences with your dog," Meeker said.

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A dog sits at the entrance to a plane over a sign that says, "Watch your paws."
On Bark Air, dogs need to be on leashes during takeoff, taxi and landing, but otherwise can roam free. Photo: Clifford A. Sobel for Axios

2. Our cars are older than ever

A line chart that displays the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. from 2002 to 2024. The age, measured as of Jan. 1 each year, gradually increases from 9.6 years in 2002 to 12.6 years in 2024. The chart shows a consistent upward trend over the 22-year period.
Data: S&P Global Mobility; Chart: Axios Visuals

Americans are keeping their old cars longer, according to data released this week by S&P Global Mobility.

Why it matters: We're holding on to our cars in part because they're better-built than they used to be — but also because it's just too expensive to buy a new one.

Between the lines: The aging of the U.S. auto fleet is good news for car dealers, neighborhood mechanics and auto parts retailers who make their money on car repairs and service.

Zoom in: There were 286 million registered vehicles in the U.S. as of Jan. 1, about 2 million more than the prior year.

  • The average age of those cars has been rising steadily for two decades.
  • It now stands at a record 12.6 years, per S&P Global Mobility.

The bottom line: COVID 19-related supply chain shortages disrupted car sales in 2020 and beyond — another reason people have hung on to their older cars.

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3. Roblox sued for targeting kids' gaming addictions

The Roblox website on a laptop computer. Photo: Gabby Jones/Bloomberg via Getty Images

An Atlanta-based law firm is suing video game makers to save young people from gaming addictions.

  • Tina Bullock, managing partner of Atlanta-based firm Bullock Ward Mason, tells Axios they're suing the companies behind Roblox and "just about everything that you can think of that is a multiplayer game."

Driving the news: Bullock and other attorneys filed a class action lawsuit against Roblox on behalf of several parents, accusing the company of labor law violations, false advertising and fraud by offering children "nearly worthless digital currency for their labor."

  • "Robux" can be converted into real money, but the parents allege the requirements are so high that Roblox ultimately keeps most of the money.
  • Bullock wants companies to do more to warn families about the risks associated with video games.
  • She's also involved with an Arkansas-based suit against Call of Duty, Fortnite and Grand Theft Auto.

Read the full story.

4. On Ozempic? Nestlé's got a new food brand for you

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Nestlé has a new frozen food brand aimed at people taking weight-loss drugs.

Why it matters: It's one of the first direct responses by a major food company to the surging use of GLP-1 medications.

  • Nestlé debuted Vital Pursuit, which it described as "a new line of foods intended to be a companion for GLP-1 weight-loss medication users and consumers focused on weight management."

Vital Pursuit's products — all sold for $4.99 or less — are "high in protein, a good source of fiber, contain essential nutrients, and they are portion-aligned to a weight-loss medication user's appetite," the company said.

  • Items include sandwich melts, pizzas and bowls with whole grains or protein pasta.

Keep reading.

Big thanks — and a few treats and toys — to What's Next copy editor Amy Stern.

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