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Virgin Australia Plans for First Domestic In-Cabin Pet Policy

A combination of regulatory changes and public support has led Virgin Australia to make the decision to welcome pets in cabins.

A Virgin Australia Boeing 777 in Los Angeles. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

Virgin Australia has unveiled plans to make history as the first domestic airline in the country to permit small cats and dogs to travel alongside their owners in the cabin. This eagerly anticipated pet-friendly policy, slated for launch within the next 12 months, will specifically cater to select domestic flights, providing a unique travel experience for pet owners within designated cabin rows.

Regulatory Changes And Public Support

This decision comes in the wake of a 2021 regulatory change by the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA), which eased restrictions on in-cabin pet travel. Currently, major Australian airlines such as Qantas, Virgin Australia, Jetstar, and Regional Express permit service dogs to accompany their owners in the cabin at no additional cost.

However, all other pets have been restricted to travel in the cargo hold. With this move, Virgin Australia is poised to become the first domestic airline in Australia to welcome pets in cabins, offering pet owners increased convenience and the ability to keep their animals close during air travel.

Virgin Australia’s chief executive, Jayne Hrdlicka, noted the success of this arrangement internationally, highlighting that allowing pets on flights is a common practice in North America.”Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality,” she said.

Referring to a recent poll conducted on Virgin’s Facebook page, 85% of respondents supported the airline allowing pets in the cabin.

Ensuring Safety and Comfort

However, specific limitations are in place. To ensure passenger comfort and safety, pets will be restricted to designated rows, unable to roam freely or occupy laps. They must be securely transported in a Virgin Australia-approved ventilated carrier that fits under the owner’s seat throughout the flight.

Acknowledging the concerns of passengers uncomfortable with the new in-cabin pet policy, Hrdlicka clarified, “It won’t be a menagerie on board; we’re just talking dogs or cats.” She also emphasized that the designated pet-friendly rows will facilitate easy separation between pet owners and passengers with pet allergies or sensitivities.

Melbourne Airport CEO, Lorie Argus said the airport was looking forward to helping Virgin Australia deliver the Australian-first.

“We’ve been investing significant effort into providing relief areas for assistance animals and these facilities have ample capacity to serve Virgin Australia’s new guests,” she said. “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.”

While details regarding participating routes and associated fees are forthcoming, Virgin Australia’s move marks a significant shift in domestic pet travel options within Australia.

Tolga Karadeniz


  • Tolga Karadeniz

    Tolga is a dedicated aviation enthusiast with years of experience in the industry. From an early age, his fascination with aviation went beyond a mere passion for travel, evolving into a deliberate exploration of the complex mechanics and engineering behind aircraft. As a writer, he aims to share insights , providing readers with a view into the complex inner workings of the aviation industry.

    View all posts

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