June 30, 2021

Are pets cleared for take-off?

Are pets cleared for take-off?
Dr. Chris Brown

Buckle up! Look who’s about to be cleared for take-off in Australia. Yes, pets will soon be allowed in the cabin for domestic travel. Here’s how the airlines have responded and when it could happen…

The relaxation of rules that have kept Australia behind much of Europe and North America will take effect from December 2nd, when instead of being confined to the cargo hold, pets will be allowed in the cabin. But there’s a catch. The decision will be at the discretion of the pilot in command and all pets must be restrained and controlled, especially during takeoff, landing and during turbulence. And yes…as the rules dictate, ‘fluids and excrement will be controlled’.

But before you purchase your inflight snacks and extra legroom for all 4 legs, there’s already been some pre-flight jitters. Qantas and Jetstar have said they still won’t allow pets while Virgin Australia is still considering the proposal. Importantly, these changes don’t affect service animals who will still be permitted in the cabin.

The disappointing aspect here is that of all climates in the world where pets would benefit from being out of the cargo hold, it’s Australia’s. The risk of heat stroke (especially in flatter faced dogs like pugs, boxers, French bulldogs) is significant if they are left in hot, poorly ventilated cargo areas or on a plane tarmac in the sun.

So provided their behaviour is airworthy (and they’re not responsible for too many odours of unknown origin) it’s hard to see how most dogs won’t be a welcome addition to the cabin. They may even be better behaved that some humans I’ve been seated next to.

Just as long as they don’t add to the already long queue for the toilet.


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