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Virgin Australia Pioneers Pet-Friendly Skies with In-Cabin Flights for Pets

Two small dogs dressed in Virgin Australia uniform

Virgin Australia is set to revolutionise the travel experience for pet lovers by unveiling plans to become the first airline in Australia to introduce in-cabin flights for small cats and dogs. Although awaiting regulatory approval, this innovative service is anticipated to take flight within the next 12 months, marking a significant milestone for pet-friendly travel in the country.

The decision to introduce in-cabin flights was influenced by the overwhelming support received from Virgin Australia’s Facebook community, with 85% of respondents expressing their enthusiasm in a 2021 social media survey. In more recent research, nearly 70% of Australian pet owners revealed their willingness to travel with their pets in the cabin, with 57% expressing an increased likelihood of flying regularly if this service were available.

Major carriers in North America, including United Airlines and Air Canada, have successfully implemented in-cabin pet services for domestic flights, setting a precedent for the positive reception of such initiatives.

Proposed In-Cabin Experience: Pawfecting Travel Comfort

Virgin Australia has outlined specific parameters to ensure a seamless in-cabin experience for both pets and passengers:

– The service will be exclusively available for small cats and dogs on designated domestic routes.

– Pets will be limited to specific rows and are not permitted to roam freely or sit on laps.

– Passengers must utilise an approved Virgin Australia pet carrier, placing it under the seat in front of them for the duration of the flight.

CEO Jayne Hrdlicka Excited About Pioneering Pet Travel

Speaking at a press conference at Melbourne Airport, Virgin Australia Group CEO, Jayne Hrdlicka, expressed her excitement about the prospect of introducing pets in-cabin flights, emphasising the airline’s commitment to innovation and exceptional service offerings.

Hrdlicka stated, “Our love for animals has always been in the Virgin Australia DNA, and we are thrilled at the prospect of taking off with Australia’s first-ever pets in cabin flights. Overwhelmingly, our guests tell us they want to travel with their pets, and we are now on a journey to make that a reality.”

She highlighted the potential impact on pet-friendly accommodation providers, anticipating increased connectivity and convenience for travellers flying with their pets. Hrdlicka emphasised Virgin Australia’s consistent commitment to innovation, citing previous milestones such as online check-in, baggage tracking, and a self-service disruption management tool.

Melbourne Airport CEO, Lorie Argus, echoed the excitement, expressing the airport’s readiness to support Virgin Australia in delivering this Australian-first initiative.

Continued Support for Assistance Animals and Cargo Transport

Virgin Australia assured that the introduction of in-cabin flights for pets will not affect the existing provisions for approved assistance animals, which can travel in the cabin at no additional cost. The eligibility assessment procedure for assistance animals will remain unchanged. Additionally, the airline will continue offering pet transport services through approved carriers for those who prefer cargo transport, recognising the diverse needs of pet owners. Further details, including routes and associated costs, will be announced in the coming months, promising an exciting new era for pet travel in Australia.

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