For most, the prospect of travel is something to be celebrated, but for pet owners it’s a source of dread. Aside from the separation anxiety that comes with leaving your beloved pet, there’s the added hassle of having to find someone to look after them. Stays in a kennel are about as expensive as a four-star hotel, but you can’t just trust any old person to mind your favourite family member. Thankfully, Australians might soon be spared the stress of having to leave their pets at home while travelling as federal laws look to relax laws that allow people to take their pets into the cabin with them on commercial flights.
As it currently stands, all non-service animals must travel in the cargo hold of planes. However, in most overseas jurisdictions, pets can actually be carried in cabins for a fee, with everything from pigs, miniature horses, and ducks even spotted on flights in the past. It begs the question, what is Australia waiting for?
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority will make changes to flight rules this December, and it’s believed these restrictions in Australia will be relaxed, allowing Australians to take their pets into the cabin on commercial flights. Pilots will ultimately decide though, 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 as CASA explains, each airline will determine if they wish to carry pets in cabins and if 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.
But while most Australians are celebrating the news and envisioning weekend getaways with their pooch riding next to them in economy, it seems the airlines aren’t all rushing to get on board with the changes. Virgin Airlines has said it will consider the changes as part of a wider pet travel review, while Qantas and Jetstar have said they “aren’t looking to update our policies on animals in the cabin at this stage.”
Given the impact the global pandemic has had on the airline industry, one can only assume that by allowing pets to travel in the cabin, more pet owners would be encouraged to travel. It could just lead to a massive boom, with pet holidays and weekend getaways becoming the new European summer vacation. Still, it goes without saying that not everyone has a dog or cat as a pet. One woman attempted to bring a peacock on a United Airlines flight. Since then, US transport has banned all animals except dogs as service or emotional support animals in December of 2020, with both cats and dogs allowed to be brought in cabins as pets.
We can only hope that it isn’t too much longer before we’re allowed to travel with our fur-babies. Spoken by someone with serious separation anxiety from their own pooch.