NEWS AND COMMENT: It seems like the Holy Grail of feline air travel because a change is afoot in Australia. Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority is relaxing the rules governing the transportation of pets on aircraft. It’s reported that pets could soon be allowed to join their owners in the cabins and depending upon the animal they won’t have to be inside a carrier under the seat or next to the owner. That’s my interpretation. Ironically when I searched for ‘pets’ on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’ website, it found nothing on the topic! Nada. So where does the information come from?
The Daily Mail reports: “Airlines have the choice to allow cats and dogs to sit with their owners on flights”. And there is a picture of a dog on a lead on their owner’s lap. There is no doubt in my mind that we need more accurate reporting. I’d advise that interested people do further research.
The Civil Aviation Safety Authority laws banning pets from cabins will be eased. They are giving individual airlines discretion as to how they allow customers to travel with their cats and dogs. But the rules allow the animals to sit with their owners on flights. The next stage in the process is to wait for airlines such as Qantas, Jetstar, virgin Australia and Rex to announce changes.
I’m told that captains will have the power to allow animals to sit in the cabin but they will have to follow specific guidelines. What we’re talking about here, I believe, is giving customers the power to make decisions based upon guidelines. It’s a kind of freeing up of the process of travelling with your companion animal.
There will need to be some sort of constraints on the animal for obvious reasons. You can imagine how chaotic it might be if you’ve got a cat sitting next to their owners in the cabin. A strange place and other strange animals and people around might well lead to unwanted behaviour including perhaps inappropriate elimination and fights! They say that a small animal in the cabin would have to be, as a minimum, restrained during takeoff and landing and during turbulence.
If my interpretation is correct, I can foresee cats who have been leash trained sitting next to their owners or on their owner’s lap on a leash rather than under the seat in a carrier which is far less pleasant, at least potentially, for the cat and person.
At the moment the Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority only allow customers to take their pets on planes if they are kept in the cargo hold in a cage. We all know how problematic that is in terms of animal health and welfare. And it causes a lot of anxiety both to the animal and owner. Contemporary Persian cats are banned from the hold as I recall because of breathing issues. There have been fatalities I believe.
I welcome this step, as I’m sure cat owners in general will. There are responsibilities, though. It’s going to need a good dose of common sense to ensure that it works out properly. I can see most cat owners using a carrier. There’ll be very few capable of managing their cat on a lead under these circumstances. In fact, there are very few leash-trained cats in any case.
There is also the tricky problem of being in a large airport with your cat on a leash! There have been some disasters; cats getting lost at airports. But I can see a well-trained cat on a leash doing well flying this way. Although, there won’t be many cats who are suited to flying with this freedom. And their owners might be as anxious with their cat out of a carrier as in the hold unless the cat has ‘the right stuff’. Some cats do.
On an associated subject there are apparently 13 airlines that allow flying with a cat in cabin. They are listed below. You will have to contact the airline for specific details as to how it takes place but there will be a maximum weight, a maximum carrier size and, of course, the cost will vary. Whether the airline allows international travel with pets in the cabin is also dependent upon the airline concerned.
- Alaska Air
- Air Canada
- American Airlines
- United Airlines
- Air France
- Air Europa
- Aegean Airlines
SOME MORE ON AIR TRAVEL FOR CATS AND DOGS:
Airlines should differentiate between emotional support animals and service animals and ban the former