Can You Fly with a Dog in the Cabin to Australia?

I’m regularly asked by people whether they are able to fly to Australia with their dog in the cabin. In many parts of the world, from Europe to the USA, it’s normal to fly with your dog in the cabin, so understandably people also want to fly with their dog in the cabin to Australia. But is this possible?

Fly Dog in Cabin to Australia

Are Dogs Allowed to Fly in the Cabin in Australia?

Up until recently, it was prohibited for dogs to fly in the cabin on flights within Australia, unless they were a recognised service dog. This rule applied no matter how small your dog was; pet dogs simply weren’t allowed to fly in the cabin.

However, in December 2021, the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (or CASA), the regulatory authority in Australia, changed the rules. It is now permitted for pets to fly in the cabin of planes in Australia, following the rules set by the airline, but only if individual airlines allow it.

Do Any Australian Airlines Allow Dogs in the Cabin?

While there is no longer any prohibition on dogs flying in the cabin in Australia, it comes down to the individual airlines to decide whether they will allow this on their planes. And as of June 2023, no Australian airline has yet changed their rules to allow dogs to fly in the cabin, on regular commercial flights.

This applies for pets flying on Qantas, Virgin Australia and Regional Express flights (REX). Each of these airlines flies pets in Australia, but only in the hold, not in the cabin. Note that both Jetstar and Bonza do not fly pets at all, in the cabin or in the hold.

Dropping off Dog at Virgin Cargo
Dropping off my dog in Australia for a flight in the hold

The one close exception in Australia are the pet-friendly flights to Tasmania operated by Pawmobile. Pets fly in the cabin of the small chartered planes operated by this pet transport company, but humans are not allowed on board, except if you charter the entire plane.

Are Dogs Allowed to Fly in the Cabin to Australia?

Okay, so there are no commercial airlines in Australia that allow pets on domestic flights within Australia. But what about overseas airlines flying to Australia, that normally allow pets to fly in the cabin? Can you fly on one of those airlines with your pet in the cabin?

Interestingly, reports on the rule change allowing pets to fly in the cabin in Australia never stated whether this also applied to flights to and from Australia, or just on domestic flights, but I suspect it is only on domestic flights.

The authorities give a very definite “no” to the possibility of flying a dog in the cabin to Australia, due to the strict stance on biosecurity. According to the Australian government website on bringing cats and dogs to Australia, “your cat or dog must travel to Australia as manifest cargo. Manifest cargo allows for traceability of your cat or dog.”

Qantas Plane at LA Airport
The Qantas flight carrying my dog back to Australia as manifest cargo

The one exemption is for eligible assistance dogs, although it is only stated they “may be exempt from this condition”. And emotional support dogs are not included.

Note also that pets must fly directly to Melbourne International Airport, where they are picked up by officials and directly transported to quarantine. They cannot land at another airport in Australia and then fly to Melbourne on a domestic flight.

What About Private Jets?

While dogs are not allowed to fly in the cabin to Australia on commercial flights operated on any airline, what about on private jets?

There are a number of private jet charters that have been set up by groups of individuals, and through companies, that have flown pets in the cabin to Australia. The rules that apply to private jets must be different to the rules that apply on commercial flights.

One such company that is about to operate its first flight to Australia is Skye Pet Travel. Based in Perth, they plan to operate regular chartered flights to and from Australia, allowing pets to fly in the cabin with their owners. Note, however, that chartered flights are very expensive.

What About Flights Out of Australia?

So, while the government expressly prohibits pets from flying in the cabin on flights to Australia, except for on private jets, are pets allowed on flights departing from Australia?

When Etihad firstly started allowing pets in the cabin on their flights, there was some excitement that they only stated pets weren’t allowed in the cabin on flights to Australia, not on flights departing from Australia.

However, I have never heard of anyone who has managed to make a booking for a pet to fly in the cabin on an Etihad flight departing Australia. I have emailed Etihad, without any response, and when I last got quotes to fly my pet overseas from Australia, this was not listed as an option.

With most other airlines, when they list the flights where pets are not permitted in the cabin, they usually specify flights both to and from Australia. For instance, Delta clearly specifies on their website that pets “must enter or depart by cargo”, with the only exception for service animals.

Delta Airlines Plane Wing
Delta specify they don’t fly dogs to or from Australia in the cabin

Until I hear of instances of this happening, my belief is that pets cannot fly in the cabin on flights departing Australia.

Find Out More About Travelling to Australia with a Dog

If you’re planning on travelling to Australia with your dog, check out my other resources:

About the Author

Photo of Shandos & Schnitzel

Shandos Cleaver is the founder of Travelnuity: Dog-Friendly Travel. She has travelled extensively with her Miniature Dachshund, Schnitzel, including to 33 countries across Europe, every state and territory of Australia except Tasmania, and 10 of the United States. She’s passionate about providing inspiration and information to others wanting to travel with their dogs, whether close to home or internationally.

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