A Japanese airline has launched a special flight service that allows passengers to fly with their dogs in the main cabin.

Japan Airlines' first "wan wan jet" charter service departed on Friday from Narita airport near Tokyo and flew domestically to Kagoshima Prefecture, southwestern Japan.

For ¥150,000 ($1821), the package tour means owners and their dogs will also get to stay together in a hotel and go sightseeing in rented cars.

The 860-mile flight takes approximately two hours.

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Toshihiko Kai, a 41-year-old company employee who was travelling with a four-year-old miniature dachshund, commented on his experience.

The company announced its dog-friendly service in December and it quickly sold out. Photo / Getty
The company announced its dog-friendly service in December and it quickly sold out. Photo / Getty

"It was painful for me to check in (my dog) as luggage at airport counters as it always barks," he said.

An airline official added: "Air travel with pets will lead to the opening of new markets for domestic flights."

When the company announced its dog-friendly service in December, it was fully booked within an hour with about 60 people and 30 dogs, the company said.

According to the Japan Pet Food Association (JPFA), 18 per cent of Japanese households owned a pet at last count in 2009.

There are more dogs than children in Japan. Photo / Getty
There are more dogs than children in Japan. Photo / Getty

This equates to approximately 12.3million dogs - more than the number of children in the whole country.

It's not the first time owners have had the chance to fly with their pooches in Japan.

Last May, All Nippon Airways trialed a charter tour that took 87 passengers to Hokkaido Prefecture with 44 pets.

Passengers wait with their dogs to board the flight. Photo / Getty
Passengers wait with their dogs to board the flight. Photo / Getty

ANA's basic package cost about ¥220,000 (£2,500) for two adults and a dog - and demand was so great that the flight sold out in just two days.

During the flight, the dogs were kept in cages attached to window seats, according to Japan Times, and a veterinarian accompanied the tour.