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First Airline To Allow Pets In the Cabin, But There’s A Catch

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First Airline To Allow Pets In the Cabin, But There’s A Catch

According to a plan released today, Virgin Australia intends to be the first airline in the nation to offer flights with pets onboard.

Pet owners will be happy about the Virgin Australia service, but others may be horrified by it. It is anticipated to begin in a year or so, pending regulatory permission.

According to the airline, 85% of participants in a 2021 social media survey of Virgin Australia’s Facebook fans supported the introduction of pets on aircraft.

It continues by stating that in a more recent study of Australian pet owners by Virgin Australia, almost 70% of participants said they would bring their animal along in the cabin, and 57% said they would take flights more frequently if the option were available.

Pets are welcome on almost all major domestic airlines in North America, including United Airlines and Air Canada.

First Airline To Allow Pets In the Cabin, But There's A Catch

Proposed pets in cabin in-flight experience

Virgin Australia has established the following guidelines for pets on cabin flights, for everyone’s comfort:

  • Only small dogs and cats will be able to use the service on certain household routes;
  • Pets will not be permitted to roam free or sit on laps, and they will only be permitted in a small number of specially designated rows;
  • Additionally, pets must be transported for the whole flight in a pet carrier underneath the owner’s seat that has been certified by Virgin Australia.

Jayne Hrdlicka, CEO of Virgin Australia Group, stated that the airline is excited to finally disclose its plans to become the first in Australia to allow dogs onboard flights during a press conference held at Melbourne Airport.

“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 Ms 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 per cent 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.

“Innovation has always been a hallmark of Virgin Australia. We were the first airline in the country to offer online check-in. This year we were the first Australian airline to launch baggage tracking and a fully integrated self-service disruption management tool. It’s this innovation and first-to-market drive that underpins who we are in the market,” she said.

According to the airline, there won’t be any changes made to the approved assistance animals’ free cabin travel on Virgin Australia aircraft as a result of the proposed pets in cabin flights.

There will be no changes made to the current process used to determine whether these support animals are eligible to travel onboard. Furthermore, as a significant component of its pet offering, Virgin Australia will keep allowing pets to be shipped as cargo via authorized pet carrier services.

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