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Virgin is adding pets to flights: 10 things to know


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It's official: cats and dogs will soon be boarding Virgin Australia flights - here are 10 things pet lovers need to know.

Virgin Australia has released the first details of its pet-friendly cabins.

This follows a decision by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) to relax a ban on animals on domestic flights.

The service will allow passengers to keep their pets in the cabin, instead of being relegated to the cargo hold.

Previously, this was only offered to service dogs.

"Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality," Virgin Australia chief executive Jayne Hrdlicka said.

Here are 10 details you and your fur baby need to know.

When will the pet flights be available?

Virgin has not announced an official start date yet, with the service still subject to regulatory approvals.

However, the launch is expected to happen within the next 12 months.

In the meantime, pets must still travel in the cargo hold of the aircraft.

What types of pets are allowed?

The service will be limited to dogs and cats.

Virgin has confirmed that "no snakes, rabbits or hamsters" will be allowed in the cabin.

This aligns with Virgin's existing container restrictions. All other animals need to be transported using an external animal transportation supplier.

Are any other Aussie airlines offering this service?

At present, Virgin is the only Australian airline to have announced a pets-in-cabin service.

Qantas and Jetstar previously said they aren't looking to update their current policies, but we expect this may change in the future.

How much will it cost?

Virgin has not announced pricing yet.

The average price charged by overseas airlines for similar services is approximately $AUD150.

However, given that Virgin will have a complete monopoly in Australia, we wouldn't be surprised if the pricing is north of $200.

Travellers will also need to buy a pre-approved pet carrier to fit underneath the seat.

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Can pets go for walkies in the cabin?

No. Pets will need to remain in a carrier beneath the seat in front of you.

Your pet won't be allowed out of its carrier while in the aircraft or in the airport.

Are there any size restrictions?

Virgin Australia has yet to release a breakdown of size restrictions.

However, in announcing the move, Hrdlicka made a point of saying "small dogs and small cats".

Given the aforementioned carrier location, it seems likely that larger dogs aren't part of the initial plans.

Can I take my pet overseas?

The service will be offered on domestic flights only.

International flights will still require approval from the International Pet & Animal Transportation Association (IPATA) and will need to remain in the cargo hold.

So, uhh, what's the poo and wee situation?

As mentioned, dogs and cats must stay in the carrier for the duration of the flight. This means any "potty breaks" will need to occur in the carrier.

Hrdlicka said there will be designated areas for pets to go to the toilet at airports. (Assistance animal relief facilities are already available at Sydney Airport, for example.)

Are there any other rules I need to be aware of?

We expect that many of the existing rules for pets in the cargo hold will also apply to pets in the cabin.

These include the following:

  • The pet must be in good health
  • The pet must not be unduly aggressive
  • The pet must be transported in a container that complies with the Virgin Australia guidelines
  • If travelling to Tasmania, the pet must be treated for the Hydatids Tapeworm prior to arrival

In addition, you'll probably need a Veterinary Certificate confirming your pet is fit for air travel if it's pregnant, sick, injured or recovering from surgery.

What if I'm allergic to cats/dogs?

Virgin has confirmed that passengers who do not want to be seated near animals will be able to book a seat away from them.

The service will only be available on a limited number of flights and a small number of designated rows.

We expect all pet-permitting flights will be signposted to customers prior to purchasing their ticket.

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