Unusual Airlines That Really Existed

Unusual Airlines That Really Existed
Pet Airways, a company that flew only animals. Credit: Official website/Pet Airways

These airlines have tried to do something truly different and niche

Kartikeya Shankar
January 31 , 2023
02 Min Read

There have been numerous offbeat experiments in the airline industry. Here are a few:

Pet Airways


Pet Airways was a company that flew only animals, such as cats and dogs, and was established in 2009 in Delray Beach, Florida. Without their owners, the pets flew in the main cabin of a specially modified aircraft with carriers in place of the seats. About 50 pets could be transported on each aeroplane, and "Pet Attendants" would check on them every 15 minutes. Before takeoff, the animals were given a pre-flight walk and a potty break in specially constructed airport lounges. During its two years of operation, the airline flew to twelve US cities, including New York, Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago, and Atlanta. After experiencing financial difficulties in 2012, the airline began to slash its schedule and eventually stopped operating altogether in 2013, having transported around 9,000 pets.

The Lord's Airline

The Lord's Airline, founded by New Jersey businessman Ari Marshall in 1985, was intended to be the airline's lone aircraft. It had unusual features like a strict no-alcohol policy, Bibles and Torahs in place of in-flight magazines, only religious movies on display, and a quarter of the fares dedicated to financing missionary work. Three weekly flights from Miami to Israel's Ben Gurion Airport were scheduled, providing a direct route to Jerusalem, around 30 miles away. However, due to the aircraft's incomplete modifications and maintenance tasks by 1987, the airline could not obtain a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licence. The Lord's Airline subsequently went out of business, and the plane was dismantled.

MGM Grand Air

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Inaugurated in 1987, MGM Grand Air was a first-class-only, ultra-luxury airline that initially served a single route using lavish Boeing 727 and Douglas DC-8 aircrafts. The maximum passenger capacity per flight was 33, even though the plane could accommodate 100 or more passengers. The airline provided an optional door-to-door car service and guaranteed no lines, no check-ins, and no waiting for luggage. MGM Grand Air opened more routes after being popular with celebrities and the very wealthy initially, but it needed help filling all 33 seats on each aircraft. As the use of private aircraft increased in the 1990s, operations slowed. In 1995, the airline was sold, and it shut down entirely in 2008.

Smokers Express

In 1990, the FAA prohibited smoking on all domestic flights in the US, but two businessmen from Florida's Brevard County weren't pleased about it. They decided to break the law in early 1993 by founding an airline based on a private club. It was restricted to those above 21 and charged a USD 25 membership fee. Steaks and hamburgers with complimentary cigarettes were to be served on board, and the airline was to be stationed at the Space Coast Regional Airport in Titusville, Florida. However, regulators refused Smokers Express a licence, causing it to vanish without ever taking off.

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