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Domestic air travel in Australia with your pet

Australia is an extremely pet-friendly country with a large pet population. Travelling in Australia with your dog or cat is simple; if you are flying with your pet, you can check your pet in as excess baggage. Customers in Australia will need to enlist a pet relocation agent for domestic travel only if they are not travelling on the same flight as their pet dog or cat.

If you are moving cities or thinking of taking your pet on vacation with you, here’s what you need to know about domestic air travel in Australia with your pet cat or dog.

General health

The rule of thumb before any air travel with your pet dog or cat is a visit to the vet for a health check. It is important that your pet is fit and in good health for a comfortable journey. The vet will check that all your pet’s vaccinations are current and treat your pet for internal and external parasites if required.

For domestic air travel in Australia, it is not mandatory to microchip your pet. However, as a best practice, it is recommended to implant a microchip whenever you are travelling with your pet dog or cat. Microchips make it easier to trace lost and stolen pets.

Crate and crate training

Your pet dog or cat will travel to their destination in a travel crate and will be confined in the crate from the time of drop off until you collect them after the flight. It is imperative to purchase the correct airline approved crate for travel.

Airline approved IATA compliant crates are available in different sizes; measure your dog or cat from tips of their ears to the base of their paws, and from their snout to rump before buying your crate. The crate must be large enough for your pet to stand up, turn around and lay down comfortably.

Purchasing the crate a few weeks before your date of travel will provide sufficient time for your pet dog or cat to acclimatise in the crate. Due to security reasons, airline officials will not open the crate and bring your pet out after drop off until your pet is handed over to you; hence it is essential that your pet is calm and relaxed in the crate. Begin crate training as early as possible to ensure a smooth flight.

The right flight

Remember to book the flight in advance because most aircraft can accommodate a limited number of pets on the plane in their dedicated pet cargo area. It is recommended that you book your pet’s trip before booking your own; however, if you have booked your flight first, check availability on the flight for your pet before scheduling your pet’s ticket with the airline.

Before booking the flight, it is important to review the pet check-in and pick up locations for your booking. In some airports, the passenger terminals and the pet check-in terminal may not within walking distance from one another. Allow ample time in your itinerary for travelling between the terminals.

The check-in counter usually closes 90 minutes before the scheduled departure of the flight and most airlines do not accept pets more than two hours before the scheduled departure to ensure your pet is not confined in its crate for extended periods of time.

Most airlines also do not hold the pet for more than 90 minutes after the pet arrives at the destination. It is critical to plan your flight just right to be able to pick up and drop off your pet with ease.

On the day of the flight

On the day prior to and the day of your dog or cat’s journey, remember to make sure they are hydrated. Dehydration is one of the most significant risks for a pet during the flight and making sure they are hydrated goes a long way in keeping them comfortable and relaxed during the trip.

Feed your pet no later than six hours before the flight and make sure they are fed a light meal only. Travelling on a full stomach can cause motion sickness for pets. Take your dog for a long walk and make sure he or she is sufficiently exercised before leaving for the airport. Let your pet relieve themselves before dropping them off at check-in.

Keep all your pet’s documents ready and most importantly, remember to have the Air Way Bill number at the time of dropping off and collecting your pet. Label the crate with your pet’s name and your contact details and attach copies of your pet’s documents to the crate for easy identification.

If your pet dog or cat is on a connecting flight and the stopover between the flights is more than two hours, you will be able to take your pet out of his or her crate for a comfort stop at the airport.

Breed exceptions

Most airlines in Australia have breed exceptions and will not accept some dog breeds on the aircraft. The airline also has the right to refuse pets that display aggressive and destructive behaviour such as cage destruction and excessive aggression.

Breeds that are not allowed to fly include Fila Brasileiro, Dogo Argentino, American Pit Bull Terrier, Perro De Presa, Canario and Presa Canario. Kittens and puppies that are younger than eight weeks are also not accepted by airlines.

Most airlines have restrictions on carrying brachycephalic (snub-nosed) breeds like Bulldogs, Pugs and Pekingese. Most airlines only accept these snub-nosed breeds if the journey is not longer than five hours and they travel in crates that are two times the size of the minimum required size for increased airflow and ventilation.

Looking for a travel partner?

Domestic travel in Australia does not require a travel partner as long as you are flying with your pet on the same flight. However, if your pet is flying unaccompanied, you will have to engage the services of an experienced domestic pet relocation agency.

Petraveller are experts in international pet relocation for cats and dogs, and we are unable to arrange domestic travel for pets within Australia, unless your pet is arriving from an international location and travelling to an onwards domestic location from the quarantine centre in Melbourne.If you are planning to fly with your pet within Australia contact Qantas or Virgin Australia for further information.

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