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Pets on planes: Australians may soon be allowed animals in cabins but airlines are hesitant

Pets on planes: Australians may soon be allowed animals in cabins but airlines are hesitant

July 01, 2021

Pilots will be able to decide whether pets can ride alongside owners under changes to aviation laws coming this year

Australians may soon be able to take their pets into the cabin on commercial flights as federal laws governing the practice will be relaxed later this year.

However, the country’s major airlines appear not to be rushing to allow animals to ride alongside their owners.

Currently in Australia all non-service animals must travel in the cargo hold of planes. But in many overseas jurisdictions pets can be carried in cabins for a fee, with everything from pigs, miniature horses, and ducks  spotted  on flights in the past.

Under the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s changes to flight rules to come in December, pilots will be able to decide whether pets can ride in the cabin.

“A rule change will allow airlines to carry pets without applying for approval from CASA,” a CASA spokesperson said.

But CASA said it would be up to each airline to determine if they wish to carry pets in cabins, and they must demonstrate they can do so safely.

“They must consider how to restrain animals, effects on other passengers, not blocking exit rows, dealing with droppings/urine. The procedures for pets would be added to their operations manuals,” the spokesperson said.

A Virgin Airlines spokesperson said the airline will “consider the regulatory changes as part of a wider pet travel review we’re currently undertaking”.

“Regardless of the outcome, designated service dogs will still be able to travel in the cabin of our aircraft.”

But Qantas and Jetstar  said they “aren’t looking to update our policies on animals in the cabin at this stage”.

The airline industry has suffered major losses over the past year because of Covid-19, and these changes could potentially make pet owners more likely to travel.

The US has long allowed people to fly with emotional support animals as long as airlines allowed. Passengers have tried to bring a diverse range of creatures on board over the years as they tested the parameters of the rules.

The BBC reported a woman was prevented from bringing a peacock  on board a United Airlines flight, despite its owner being willing to pay an additional fare for her feathered friend.

But the scores of requests for out unusual support animals eventually led the US transport department  to ban all animals except dogs as service or emotional support animals in December 2020. Both cats and dogs can be brought in cabins as pets, subject to fees and the airline’s own rules.

Some Middle Eastern airlines  also allow falcons inside cabins and have their own passports.

In New York City, animals were banned  on the subway unless they fit in a bag, leading many to get creative with ways to get their dogs on board.

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