Aussie passengers may be able to fly with pets in the cabin

Airlines may allow passengers to travel with their pets in economy or business class when a strict ban on animals from plane cabins is relaxed later this year.

Currently, only service dogs are allowed to travel in plane cabins and all other animals are kept in the cargo hold on commercial flights under strict rules enforced by the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA).

But The Australian reports those rules will change from December 2, leaving it up to individual airlines to decide whether or not to allow pets in the cabin of their own planes.

Qantas and Jetstar have already ruled out the possibility but Virgin Australia is yet to make a decision, according to The Australian.

“We’ll consider the regulatory changes as part of a wider pet travel review we’re currently undertaking,” a Virgin Australia spokesman told the newspaper.

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

Virgin Australia says it is reviewing its pet travel policy. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia

CASA spokesman Peter Gibson said there would be a number of things airlines would have to sort out before they gave pets the green light to board.

“From a safety point of view, what we’re saying is they should think about not in exit rows because the dog could get in the way … and not in the aisles,” he told 3AW Breakfast.

“You’re going to have other passengers who may be allergic to dogs and cats.

“It’s not 100 per cent simple but what we’re saying from a rules point of view is as long as the safety rules are ticked off we’re not going to get in the way of it.”

The change to CASA’s rules means it’s up to airlines to decide whether to let pets into the cabin. Picture: iStockSource:istock

The new CASA rules suggest airlines consider how animals are contained and restrained, their reactions to noise, the nuisance to other passengers, the distraction of flight crew, as well as how “excrements or fluids” would be contained.

“A large animal should always be secured so as not to damage or affect the balance of the aircraft in flight,” the new rules state.

“A small or medium-sized animal carried in the cabin would normally need as a minimum to be restrained during takeoff and landing and in turbulence.”

Pets are frequently able to travel in the cabin of airlines in other parts of the world, including Europe and the US, where owners are typically charged a fee.

In Australia, pets – with the exception of service animals – can only travel in the cargo hold, with animal transport companies partnering with airlines to provide that service.

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