Small pet dogs and cats traveling in aircraft cabins

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  • cwoodward

    I was prompted to give this some thought by an email feed received today. It is something to which I have never previously given much thought and am wondering what are other contributors views are on this.
    Personally I have no objection providing that the proper controls are in place and these are properly enforced.

    It seems that in mid 2022 Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority relaxed the rules on passengers bringing their pets with them on aircraft when travelling within Australia and REX a large domestic airline is going to allow this from mid year. A first for Australia.

    I have several times travelled with Lufthansa where there have been small pets aboard and never experienced anything amiss. I was however rather shocked to read that so many reportedly (21) large airlines including Air Canada, United, Air France, Turkish reportedly allowed pets aboard. I have more than once shared a domestic Air New Zealand cabin with a working sheep dog on its way to a vet but this seems to be unofficial as it is not mentioned on ANZ’s web site.

    No Asian based or UK airlines were listed.

    ur is flying after Virgin Australia outlined plans to let passengers bring their pets along for the ride on domestic flights.

    What the airline terms as “everyday pets” – essentially dogs and cats – would be permitted in the cabin, enjoying the same status as currently limited to designated support animals instead of being consigned to the aircraft’s below-decks cargo hold.

    The controversial move came after

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    I have seen on one of the Aussie based travel sites this one has been very divisive! With the majority of the comments seemingly against.

    I guess it all depends on whether you are the guardian (careful not to say ‘owner’ lol) of a pet and the type of relationship one has with said pet.

    I am a ‘dog dad’ and yes, I am OTT to the extreme. That little guy gives me more unconditional (well, apart from shelter and food) love and affection every day that any human ever has or could!

    I generally take him EVERYWHERE with me, well everywhere that he is allowed and when he isn’t allowed I will avoid going to a certain venue or switch loyalty to a similar venue where he can come. He sleeps in my bed with me. I have somewhat changed my travel practices to make my trips shorter so I am not away from him for too long. My next vacation will be a european trip by road, so he can come along.

    So, any guesses which camp I am in? Lol.

    Like many things Australia tends to lag behind the UK, US, europe in ‘dog friendly’ venues and some of the comments I read on the Australian traveller websites are ridiculous: flatulence and ‘dogs pissing and sh*tting everywhere’. The flatulence maybe, but a dog can certainly hold its bladder and bowels significantly better than I can. Furthermore, people are talking as if these animals are just going to roam the cabin free. No, they will have to be in a pet container under the seat in front of you. ‘But people will just start taking them out of the container’. Yes, and if they do they will be treated to as similarly if they just lit a fag.

    This system has been in existence for almost ever in europe and the US and on most flights you will find a small (most airlines restrict the size to below 8.5kg) dog or cat on board, especially in the US.

    He frequently travels the 2/2.5hrs up and down from Manchester to London on the Avanti service and is generally one of the best behaved passengers on there. Sits there, not a peep out of him, does not talk on the phone does not listen to stuff on devices with no earphones 😉


    Rf2 I enjoyed reading your post thanks.

    I would be more concerned about over stressing our little chap (abused rescue dog) by the ordeal than anything else otherwise given the chance we would most certainly take him to Samui and Philippines where we have property.

    However it can never happen given the quarantined laws in Asia.

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    Small well behaved pets kept in the approved ‘carriers’ under the seat in front should not present too many issues on short haul flights provided that the numbers of pets carried aboard are limited, but I have my doubts for longer flights.

    In a previous thread the availability of on board toilets was discussed with comments that there are not enough sometimes causing queues of pax waiting to use them. So what happens on a long haul flight when a pet needs to go? Will the guardian/owner need to take the ‘droppings’ to the toilet?

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    Like Rferguson2 our 5kg dog comes on most European flights with us (except for the UK)
    So many European airlines are pet friendly and for between 30 and 60 euros she travels in the cabin with a size and weight limit – normally 5kg to 8 kg depending on the airline.

    Personally I have flown TUI, Vueling, Iberia Volotea and Binter Canarias with my pet.

    There’s usually a 2 or 3 per limit per plane so book early and they space them across the cabin.
    They can be on a lead in the airports so only in cabin bag onboard.
    Of course they have to be fully vaccinated chipped and have documentation (pet passport)
    They get a lot of attention at the airports!

    I’m British and I try and fly to the closest airport to the tunnel (usually Lille or Oostend) and taxi it to the UK as UK do not allow pets to enter via the cabin.

    The system works well and I have never seen ill behaved animals and its a pity the UK do not share the policy,

    Its a great system!

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    @CWOODWARD – for my fella it would be a no go as he is 12kg but I agree with you, it would probably be quite traumatic for the poor guy in a pet holder under the seat.

    The logistics just make it too difficult anyway, especially with international travel. For example, living in the UK I would have no problem taking my dog (if he was under 8.5kg) in the cabin of an Iberia flight from the UK to Spain. However, the UK does not allow dogs in the cabin (except service animals) on inbound flights to the UK.

    IF I lived back in OZ and IF he met the weight/size requirements I would definitely give it a go on shorter domestic flights like SYD-MEL/BNE. I certainly wouldn’t on a flight across the country to Perth however.

    There are ways around the ‘service dog’ thing. My neighbour has a cockapoo ‘trained’ as an emotional support animal (she had this done in Ireland and it took two weeks) and she travels with her dog in the cabin out of a box from the UK to the US on AA.



    I’m sorry but i have to correct you there alittle bit.

    It is Virgin Australia who made headlines a day or two ago by saying that they’ll allow the goodest of boys and fluffy Meow Meows in the cabin. This will be only in a few designated rows and the pets must fit under the front seat. So basically tiny dogs and cats.

    Qantas and Rex have said to Executive Traveller that they have no intention of letting pet dogs and cats in the cabin. Rex goes on to say that they’ll stick to only allowing support/assistant dogs on board. I’ll post the link from ET with statements from Qantas, Rex and VA including some cute pictures from my fav Australian airline Virgin Australia. I absolutely love their new/current ‘great’ ad.

    Now, pour yourselves a generous glass of Kir Royal or G&T or whatever makes your eyes pop then descend on the comment section of the Executive Traveller article. Pure entertainment! I love Australians and can’t wait to be there over Easter.

    Happy Friday to us all!


    I was rather surprised to find a yapping dog behind me on a flight on Air Malta a few months back. This particular flight needed to turn back to Heathrow due a fault. We were kept on board, I think the overall delay was 4 hours. Unfortunately and I don’t blame the dog one bit, but there was a very unpleasant accident, which caused a rather horrendous smell to woft through. However, the owners were prepared, the mess was cleaned up and the aroma did dissipate and very quickly.

    In a previous professional life I was involved in flying family pets, predominantly dogs, long haul in private jets. Flight planning was complex because the dogs travelled, as one would expect, freely in the cabin and not in a cage. Sectors could not last longer than 4 – 5 hours for fear of the pets, scratching at the door, wanting to go out. Flying from Asia to the West Coast USA often involved several stops. In all the years, I was flying the pets, never had one airborne accident. Handling agents at airports always met the dogs and transported (or walked) them to a grass area for a quick comfort break, before getting back on our way…


    Flying with pets is also very common in South America, I have never seen so many dogs on board a plane than when I flew CGH to RIO in December. I am pro pets in the cabin, and in the modern age with pet passports etc I struggle with why the UK is so rigid with not allowing in the cabin. My two rescue dogs had the privilege of private jet travel during COVID-19 (no other option) when we took them back to Hampstead, they had never experienced cold weather, and luck had it the Heath was covered in snow for a few days, the joy of seeing 2 old Hong Kong fellas figure out what all that white stuff was, priceless. My little guys are 13 and 12 and they managed to hold it for 13 hours, I think most pet owners are responsible enough to manage any mishaps, and I hope most passengers would smile and get some joy in seeing any animal on board.

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    This is pure genius. I read the article and almost did what so many of the posters on there are afraid of the pets doing – p*ssed myself. I think that our Forum has some competition with Executive Traveler in terms of witty posters!

    Cheers for sharing it,


    PS I had to edit this post because auto-correct wrote “Farm” instead of “Forum.” Quite apposite this time, I thought.

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    @ LetsFlyNow

    There are I see several contradictory reports in the AU media.
    My post repeated what I had read.


    Some years ago I took a flight from Charlotte, North Carolina. As I walked into the terminal I was a little surprised to see a lady walking in with a dog on a lead despite the signs on the airport entrances saying dogs weren’t allowed. She ended up in the seat next to me on the flight. Funnily enough, on boarding, when I saw her carrier down by her feet I assumed it was a normal carry-on bag and almost asked her if she would like me to put it in the overhead locker (thank goodness I didn’t!, that would have been embarrassing). During the flight she let him out of the carrier but had the courtesy to ask me if I minded – which, as a dog person, I didn’t. The poor little bugger was shaking and she twice had to inject it with sedatives during the flight. Bloody hell. Weird experience.

    We have once flown a dog – we bought a puppy from Wales and had her flown to Hong Kong. Poor little thing arrived in a terrible state, shaking, and covered in – well, let’s just say that she was stressed. I don’t think we would ever do that again. (Postscript – she was the most wonderful dog, lived to 14 years, had a pretty wonderful life and had a wonderful send-off – her ashes were scattered off the back of our boat (one of her favourite places) with a sausage and – her particular favourite – some prawn heads!)

    My main issue with having pets in cabins is allergies. I’m torn – in retrospect I think our puppy would have been much less stressed if travelling with us in the cabin. Flipside – I am highly allergic to cats, and would be hugely pissed off (especially on a long-haul flights) if I spent the entire time in utter misery. I can see other passengers having similar issues.

    BTW I do recall my father (unusually well travelled for his time), decades ago (literally), telling me of being on Middle East flights with hawks flying around the cabin; and South Asian flights with chickens.

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    Interesting stories Ian tks.
    Your mention of birds reminded me that I had recently read that Qatar still allows birds on its aircraft notably falcons as does seemingly Ethad.


    I’m pretty sure that all middle east carriers allow Falcons, Hawks and all birds on board. 1-2yrs ago there was a story about an american woman who sued Emirates because she paid thousands of dollars for business class and ended up stuck between Falcons on a B777-300ER. If i remember correctly she was sat in the horrible middle seat.
    At that time i just thought to myself …why did you pay to fly on Emirates B777-300ER business class?! I digress.

    But yes, large birds are a common feature on Emirates etc. Just google ‘Emirates falcon’ and one of the images you’ll see is from that story where Emirates was sued.

    On a personal note; i’ve been invalid for the last couple of weeks and seriously wanted to adopt a cat. I didn’t because i couldn’t imagine leaving the cat alone for the 14+hrs i spend away from home. Back to work tomorrow.
    Yes, i’m happy with pets on a plane as long as they’re not snakes!


    I travelled a few times out of Doha with Falcons on board in First – picture from the old Doha terminal check in. Sadly better photos are too large to attach…just the one from check in. I do agree with others, must be hell if you have a pet allergy.

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