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Thursday 7 March 2024

Cat out of the bag for dog days in the air

Australians will soon be able to fly with their pets in the cabin.

Virgin Australia today announced its intention to be the country’s first airline to operate flights with pets onboard.

The Australian-first service is subject to regulatory approval, and is expected to launch within 12 months.

In a social media survey of Virgin Australia’s Facebook followers in 2021, 85% of respondents voted in favour of the airline launching pets in cabin flights. 

In more recent research conducted by Virgin Australia with Australian pet owners, nearly 70% of respondents advised they would travel with their pet in the cabin, with 57% saying they would fly more regularly if the service was a reality.

Almost all major carriers in North America offer a pets onboard service for domestic flights, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

Virgin Australia announced a number of parameters for pets in cabin flights:

The service will be limited to small cats and dogs on specific domestic routes.

Pets will be restricted to a limited number of designated rows and will not be allowed to roam freely or sit on laps.

Pets must also be carried in a Virgin Australia approved pet carrier under the seat in front of the owner for the duration of the flight.

“Our love for animals has always been in the Virgin Australia DNA and we are excited at the prospect of taking off with Australia’s first-ever pets in cabin flights,” said Virgin Australia CEO Jayne Hrdlicka.

“Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality. It’s something that commonly happens overseas and is proven to work well.

“Almost 70% of Australian households have a pet, so this announcement is really significant for a large proportion of the country. It’s also a great thing for pet-friendly accommodation providers who will benefit greatly from increased connectivity and the ease for travellers to fly with their pets. It really will be a whole new economy for pet travel in Australia.

“Pets on flights is another example of Virgin Australia leading the way with new and improved service offerings and first-to-market experiences for our guests.”

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