This Virgin Australia Pet Update Deserves a Round of A-Paws

virgin australia pets travel

In grrrreat news for small dogs and cats flying Virgin Australia, the airline has shared its plans to operate flights with pets onboard within the next 12 months. Currently, pets are transported as cargo on Australian airlines.

Even though pets being allowed in the cabin is common practice with some overseas airlines, the concept is yet to launch in Australia. Virgin Australia Group’s CEO Jayne Hrlicka said at a press conference at Melbourne Airport on Thursday, March 7 that with almost 70% of Australian households pet owners, she expected the announcement to be significant to many in 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,” she said. “It really will be a whole new economy for pet travel in Australia.”

virgin australia pets travel
Image: Virgin Australia

The offering, which is still subject to regulatory approval, will come with a price tag, though VA hasn’t shared that cost yet. It will be limited to small cats and dogs and only available on specific domestic routes.

Pets will also be restricted to a limited number of designated rows and won’t be allowed to roam freely or sit on laps. They must be carried in a Virgin Australia-approved pet carrier, which will sit under the owner’s seat for the entire flight.

“Animals being carried on board Virgin Australia flights will be required to remain in their approved pet carriers at all other times within the terminal,” said Melbourne Airport CEO Lorie Argus at the press conference, adding that she predicted it to be a popular offering.

virgin australia pets travel
Image: Virgin Australia

The proposed pets in cabin flights won’t change the existing rules for approved assistance animals. They’re allowed to travel in the cabin of Virgin Australia flights at no extra cost. It’s unclear if the new offering will eliminate the need for pets to travel in cargo or if that option will still be offered at a cheaper rate.

Non-assistance animals now fly on VA on select routes with a booking made through Commercial Pet Trade Company. The airline’s website has a list of pick-up and drop-off spots for travelling pets in locations around the country. Pets can also fly through select Qantas routes. Jetstar doesn’t accept any pet bookings.

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