You Might Soon Be Able to Take Your Dog or Cat Onboard with You While Flying Domestically with Virgin

If the carrier gets regulatory approval, it'll become the first Australian airline to allow pets in the cabin.
Sarah Ward
Published on March 07, 2024

No one likes leaving their pet at home when they go on holiday. No one loves moving interstate with them flying in the cargo hold, either. A solution might be on the way, however, with Virgin Australia announcing its intention to allow small dogs and cats in the cabins of its aircraft — as long as it gets the regulatory tick of approval to do so.

At present, all pets except authorised service and assistance dogs can't join humans while they're soaring through the skies. Instead, they fly underneath amid the luggage. But everyone who shares their life with a pooch or mouser knows that they want to do everything that people can do. In fact, they think they're people. Here's one way they'll be able to, ideally within 12 months.

If it is signed off by the aviation powers that be, this will be the first time that an airline in Australia has allowed pets in its cabins. There will be rules, of course, including the fact that only small dogs and cats will be permitted, that the option will only be available on selected domestic routes and that pets will have to stay in a Virgin Australia-approved pet carrier under the seat in front of you for the whole flight.

There'll also be designated rows for folks travelling with pets — which mightn't suit your cat if it isn't fond of dogs, or vice versa. And, if you're dreaming of your pupper or feline sitting on your lap or walking around the cabin, that obviously won't be allowed either.

On the ground before you hop on the plane, then once you disembark, your pet will need to stay in its carrier as well, other than at the relief areas that will be part of Virgin's terminals.

There's no word yet which routes will soon allow four-legged friends for company, or how much bringing them onboard might cost — but there will be a fee. The current arrangement with service and assistance animals will continue, so they'll still be permitted to travel in the cabin without an extra cost. Virgin Australia also will still transport pets in the cargo hold.

"We expect the pets in cabin concept will prove a popular offering and we look forward to working with Virgin Australia to make it a reality," said Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus.

Tell your pet to pack their suitcase — and start asking them about their dream interstate holiday.

Virgin Australia hopes to allow small dogs and cats in its cabins on select domestic flights within the next 12 months. We'll update you when more details are announced. For more information about Virgin Australia's current pet policies in the interim, head to the airline's website.

Images: Alex Coppel.

Published on March 07, 2024 by Sarah Ward
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