Fifi flies in style: jet-setting Hong Kong dog snoozes through Istanbul flight in business class, sparking online row over pampering

A viral video of a pet dog slumbering in business class on a flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul has sparked a deluge of online criticism over the costly pampering of pets. Photo: SCMP composite/Instagram/@fifilittledarling

A Hong Kong rescue dog has become an online sensation after a video of the pampered pooch snuggled under blankets on a business class flight from Hong Kong to Istanbul went viral.

British owner Helen Rosalie, who adopted the miniature long-haired dachshund in Hong Kong when the dog was one year old – she’s now four – said Fifi was “calm and collected” throughout the 11-hour flight.

“She is the most chilled dog,” said Rosalie by phone from South Carolina in the United States where she now lives after five years in Hong Kong.

While Fifi looked comfortable, many online observers were not, with fur flying over Rosalie’s travel arrangements and her tongue-in-cheek posts about how she treats her dog as if it were her daughter.

Interview: Fifi, the dog that flew business class and went viral

“It seems a bit sad that you’d prefer to spend tens of thousands on a dog and call it your daughter, when there are thousands of children in care homes that could become a real daughter,” wrote one.

“I just grew up where the cost of a dog in first-class could feed a couple hundred starving kids, get them some clean clothes and maybe save literal lives, so this is hard for me to see,” wrote another.

Mini dachshund, Fifi, is packed and ready for her business class flight from Hong Kong to Turkey. Photo: Instagram/@fifilittledarling
Mini dachshund, Fifi, is packed and ready for her business class flight from Hong Kong to Turkey. Photo: Instagram/@fifilittledarling

While some might criticise Fifi’s mode of transport, the pet travel services business is booming.

Turkish Airlines flies back life-saving dogs in business class | Daily Sabah

In 2021, the global market was valued at US$782.4 million. It is now forecast to reach US$1.3 billion by 2031.

A growing trend in the sector is jet share – the chartering of private jets by pet owners keen to travel with their furry friends and share the expenses with others. Facebook groups such as “HK Private Jet Sharing With Dogs” have emerged to help match pet owners with destinations.

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