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Here, Fluffy, It's Boarding Time!

A while back we told you about businesses that are doing well despite the current economic recession. Candy makers, movie rental companies, and inexpensive restaurants, for instance.

As to whether the new kind of business we're about to describe will be a success or a failure, we can't say, since it won't begin operations until July. But this dollar figure - $41 billion - makes its chances promising. That's more than the gross domestic products of all but 64 nations on earth.

Forty-one billion dollars is the amount of money that Americans spend on their pets each year, and while we're cutting back on many things right now, there are lots of signs that we're still giving our dogs and cats and parakeets good food and toys and medical care.

This augurs well for a new start-up airline that will not just cater to Fido and Fifi. Pets will be their exclusive clientele. The only humans on board will be in-cabin pet attendants - and the pilots, of course.

Pet Airways, based in Florida, will fly turboprop planes to five U.S. cities, including New York, Chicago and Denver. Gone are most of the 19 passenger seats, replaced by rows of variously sized pet carriers, right in the main cabin. No more scary rides up conveyor belts or traumatic trips alone, among the luggage, in the cargo hold for these canine and feline travelers. There'll even be pet lounges at the airports, where anxious owners and their pets can say adieu or welcome home. The pet attendants will even walk dogs on a bit of a potty break before departure. Cats, of course, don't take such suggestions from anyone, even those in uniform.

Pet Airways' owners make lavish use of puns in their promotions. Pets are "pawsengers," for example. And on each trip, humans will wish them "bone voyage."

In addition to still more bathroom breaks on board, the pawsengers will be offered snacks and drinks, which is more than humans get on some flights these days.

Read more of Ted's personal reflections and stories from the road on his blog, Ted Landphair's America.