Australian Flights

Time to read: Approximately 16 minutes

TravelPaws has undertaken an investigation below to clarify the booking procedures and carriage requirements for travel with an Assistance/Service Dog on Australia’s major airlines- Qantas, Virgin Australia, and Jetstar.

Terminology

“Service Dog”  is the term primarily used by Qantas, Virgin Australia and Jetstar, and is defined by each to include Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs.

Preparing to Travel

When making travel arrangements with Australia’s major airlines you will likely be asked to provide the following information;

  • Handler name and Service Dog name.
  • Type of Service Dog (Guide, Hearing or Assistance Dog).
  • Name of training organisation or trainer.
  • Age, sex and breed of Service Dog.
  • Weight and length of Service Dog.
  • Whether the Service Dog is in good health and free from infectious diseases.

You will likely also be asked to provide current identification issued by an organisation approved by the airline for you (as a Handler/Trainer) and your Service Dog. More information on documentation required by each airline can be found below.

Be sure to check out TravelPaws other relevant resources if you haven’t already. These include our Australian Country Guide, Travel Checklists, and Travel Rules on who to contact before your trip.

A Note on Booking Processes

TravelPaws has documented the booking processes of each of the airlines below. Please be aware that Handlers have reported varied experiences when navigating these booking processes; some have found them to be successful and expedient, whilst others have encountered numerous errors and time-consuming phone calls.

Be especially conscious of the potential for misinformation. In TravelPaws’ experience, statements made on the airline’s website may not always reflect what you are told on the phone, and vice versa. If in doubt, double check and try to get any advice you are given in writing.

Finally, note that to ensure the available discounts are properly applied, carer bookings will have to be done over the phone for those travelling with Qantas and Virgin Australia. Discounts for carers do not apply to Jetstar.

On the Day of Your Flight

At the airport, your dog must be accompanied by you or its trainer and wear its identifying coat. On request, you must be able to produce proof of identity documents issued by an approved organisation showing that your dog has passed the Public Access Test (PAT). Examples of the PAT can be found at the following links; ACT PAT form and Qld PAT form. Note that is is TravelPaws experience that a PAT is not required where the Service Dog is from a recognised training organisation and has documentation to prove this.

On the plane, your dog must continue to wear its identifying coat, be harnessed with a suitable restraint, and sit on a moisture absorbent mat.

You may prepare for the flight by exercising your dog and limiting their fluid intake prior to boarding.

This information and more can be found on the Civil Aviation Safety Authority’s website.

Please note that each airline has its own conditions of carriage for Service Dogs. These are outlined below.

Complaints

If you have a complaint about Qantas, Virgin Australia or Jetstar that has not been resolved by the airline itself, you may contact the Airline Customer Advocate (ACA) by completing the online Airline Customer Advocate (ACA) complaints form or by calling 1800 813 129 (in Australia).

If you are denied travel with your Service Dog and you need to contact the Australian Human Rights Commission for advice, you can complete the online Australian Human Rights Commission complaints form or call 1300 369 711 (in Australia).

The Airlines

TravelPaws has documented the specific requirements and procedures for the three major airlines, including relevant contact details.

1. Qantas

Travelling with a Service Dog 

TravelPaws recommends you read this link:

You can read up on information relating to travel with your Service Dog on Qantas here.

Criteria for Carriage

A dog is permitted to travel in the aircraft cabin on a Qantas flight if it;

If your dog meets all these criteria, you may fill out Qantas’ application for carriage of a Service Dog form and return it to specialhandling@qantas.com.au at least 14 days prior to travel. Once approved, this form will be valid for future travel with the approved Service Dog on Qantas flights, though will need to be updated annually. TravelPaws recommends filling out the form in advance of making a booking to avoid the standard 14 day wait period and to enable immediate travel in the future. You can update your Qantas Frequent Flyer Profile by emailing your Assistance Dog details so each time you do a booking it will generate an automatic alert.

If your dog does NOT meet all these criteria, you can complete Qantas’ additional information form to be considered for an exemption.

Note also that if you are travelling internationally, you will also have to complete Qantas’ international declaration form. This Qantas International declaration form must be completed and emailed here 14 days in advance and each time you travel internationally. If you are considering flying with Qantas, please read their specific destination requirements on this form BEFORE you book.

How to Book

To Note:

Please be aware that Handlers have reported varied experiences when navigating airline booking processes; some have found them to be successful and expedient, whilst others have encountered numerous errors and time-consuming phone calls.

Be especially conscious of the potential for misinformation. In TravelPaws’ experience, statements made on the airline’s website may not always reflect what you are told on the phone, and vice versa. If in doubt, double check and try to get any advice you are given in writing.

Finally, note that to ensure the available discounts are properly applied, carer bookings will have to be done over the phone.

Booking Options:

You may book yourself a ticket online through Qantas’ online booking portal. After completing your booking online, make note of your booking reference number and contact Qantas’ special assistance team to book in your Service Dog by calling 1800 177 474 or emailing specialhandling@qantas.com.au . Please be aware that TravelPaws has not been able to verify that this procedure works effectively. We would welcome your feedback.

Alternatively, you can make the entire booking over the phone by calling the contact centre on 1300 655 234 or special assistance team on 1800 177 474.

Please note, when you book your Service Dog, an extra seat will be provided at no additional charge. Be aware that any additional seats required to accommodate your Service Dog, for example where the dog measures between 86-129cms, will be at your own expense.

Whether your booking is accepted will depend on the flight’s availability. Qantas does not otherwise limit the number of Service Dogs permitted in the aircraft cabin per flight.

At the Airport and During the Flight

Qantas has specific conditions of carriage that apply to Service Dogs and Service Dogs in training. TravelPaws recommends that prior to your flight you read this link thoroughly: You can read up on Qantas’ Service Dog conditions of carriage here.

In summary, for all domestic and international flights;

  • The Service Dog must be accompanied by their Handler at all times in the airport and during the flight and be wearing their identifying vest, coat and/or medallion.
  • The Handler must ensure they have current identity documents available in their carry-on baggage to produce if requested, including an identity card issued by a member organisation of ADI or issued under the QLD Guide Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009, or another form of identification deemed acceptable by Qantas at the time of approval.
  • The Handler and Service Dog must generally pre-board the aircraft.
  • The Service Dog must be seated on a moisture absorbent mat, provided by Qantas, on the floor in the space allocated by Qantas. For safety reasons, the dog must be suitably restrained whilst seated.
  • The Handler accepts full responsibility for their Service Dog.
  • Service Dogs may be refused carriage if their behaviour compromises the safety of the aircraft. On the day of travel, the Pilot in Command has the final decision as to whether or not the Service Dog is carried, and they may impose any further conditions required in the interests of safety.

Please note that further conditions apply on international flights, and to Service Dogs in training. They can also be found at the link above.

Codeshare Flights 

Please be aware that if your flight is a codeshare flight, the relevant Service Dog requirements will be those of the airline operating the flight. For example, if your Qantas flight is a codeshare operated by Jetstar, your Service Dog will need to meet Jetstar’s Service Dog criteria for carriage and conditions of carriage.

Travelling with a Carer

Qantas requires passengers who need assistance with meals and drinks, using the bathroom, administering medication or communicating with flight staff to travel with an escort or carer.

If you are travelling domestically with a carer you are eligible for reduced fares for both yourself and your carer, provided you hold a current carer concession photo I.D issued by People with Disability Australia, or a current Centrelink pensioner concession card with blind entitlement, or a current travel pass for a person with vision impairment issued by a state or territory authority.  TravelPaws recommends that you read Qantas’ criteria thoroughly and use their language when applying to travel with a carer.

To ensure the available discount is properly applied, make your carer booking over the phone by calling the Qantas contact centre on 1300 655 234.

You can get more information on travelling with a carer on Qantas airlines here or by calling the contact centre on 1300 655 234.

Where do I go for any questions?

Customer Service (for queries about travel in the next 24 hours): 13 13 13

Contact Centre: 1300 655 234

Special Assistance Phone: 1800 177 474

Special Assistance Phone via Relay Service:

  • Voice relay users phone 1300 555 727, then ask for Qantas on 1800 177 474
  • TTY users phone 133 677, then ask for Qantas on 1800 177 474

Special Assistance Email: specialhandling@qantas.com.au

Please note, those contacting Qantas from outside Australia can find a list of Qantas’ international contact numbers here.

Complaints 

Contact Centre: 1300 655 234

Complaints Online Form: You can submit a complaint by filling out Qantas’ online feedback form.

 

2. Virgin Australia

Travelling with a Service Dog

TravelPaws recommends you read this link:

You can read up on information relating to travel with your Service Dog on Virgin Australia here.

Criteria for Carriage

A dog is permitted to travel in the aircraft cabin on a Virgin Australia flight if it;

  • Is a certified/registered Guide or Hearing Dog accompanying a guest with a vision or hearing impairment, OR
  • Is an Assistance Dog trained to assist with a disability and to alleviate the effects of the disability, and that meets the standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public place.
  • Additionally, Virgin Australia will only carry Service Dogs that can fit comfortably on the floor and not impede the exit or escape path lighting. Virgin’s Engineering Team stipulate that the maximum measurements generally permitted are up to 45kg in weight and 85cm in length. If your Service Dog exceeds these measurements, please email Virgin here , or contact them by emailing or calling 1300 139 303 to confirm your dog’s eligibility to travel.

Please note that requests to travel with an Assistance Dog require different documentation depending on whether or not your dog was trained at an organisation pre-approved by Virgin Australia. Pre-approved organisations include;

If your dog has been trained by one of these organisations, you will only need to provide a document confirming this (at the time of travel).

If your dog has NOT been trained by one of these organisations, you will need to provide documents that confirm your dog has been trained to alleviate the effects of a disability, and documents that confirm your dog meets the standards of hygiene and behaviour appropriate for an animal in a public space (note that this is most easily confirmed by providing a Public Access Test). You can send these documents to VA.Medical@virginaustralia.com

How to Book

To Note:

Please be aware that Handlers have reported varied experiences when navigating airline booking processes; some have found them to be successful and expedient, whilst others have encountered numerous errors and time-consuming phone calls.

Be especially conscious of the potential for misinformation. In TravelPaws’ experience, statements made on the airline’s website may not always reflect what you are told on the phone, and vice versa. If in doubt, double check and try to get any advice you are given in writing.

Finally, note that to ensure the available discounts are properly applied, carer bookings will have to be done over the phone.

Booking Options:

You may call Virgin’s special assistance line on 1300 139 303 to book yourself and your Service Dog. The Virgin representative on the call will go through Service Dog criteria and conditions of carriage during the call.

Alternatively, you may book yourself a ticket online using Virgin’s online booking portal. After completing your booking online, make note of your booking reference number and submit Virgin’s specific service request form explaining that you will be travelling with your Service Dog. Virgin will respond to your request via email or phone call. Please be aware that TravelPaws has not been able to verify that this procedure works effectively. We would welcome your feedback.

Please note, when you book a Service Dog, an extra seat will be provided free of charge.

Also note that Virgin Australia generally only accepts up to two Service Dogs per flight on their domestic and international short haul services. You can submit a request for more than two Service Dogs to be permitted to travel on the same flight by emailing Virgin Australia at VA.Medical@virginaustralia.com as far in advance of making your booking as possible. Whether this request is approved will depend on the operational and safety requirements of the particular flight.

At the Airport and During the Flight 

Virgin Australia has specific conditions of carriage that apply to Service Dogs. TravelPaws recommends that prior to your flight you read the information provided by Virgin at this link under the heading ‘Important Information for the Carriage of Service Dogs in the Cabin.’

In summary;

  • Service Dogs must be accompanied by their handler at all times in the airport and during the flight, be harnessed and be wearing an identifying coat and/or I.D medallion.
  • Handlers/Trainers must be able to present a current handler/trainer I.D.
  • Service Dogs must be seated on an absorbent mat for the duration of the flight. You may bring your own mat or Virgin Australia can provide one.
  • Handlers must provide a suitable restraint for their dogs.
  • Virgin Australia has the absolute discretion to refuse to carry a Service Dog if, at any time, they consider the Service Dog to be unsuitable for travel. On the day of travel, the Pilot in Command has the final decision as to whether or not the Service Dog is carried, and they may impose any further conditions required in the interests of safety.

Codeshare Flights 

If your flight is a codeshare, the relevant Service Dog criteria for carriage and conditions of carriage will depend on which of Virgin’s codeshare partners the flight is with and where you are flying to. Virgin Australia advises contacting the airline operating your flight to confirm the requirements that apply.

Travelling with a Carer

Virgin Australia requires passengers who do not meet the Virgin Australia Independent Travel Criteria listed here to travel with a carer.

To book travel with a carer call Virgin’s special assistance line on 1300 139 303. The representative on the call will take you through a questionnaire to determine the level of assistance required and, based on this, whether or not you are eligible for a discount. Carer bookings must be done over the phone to ensure available discounts are properly applied.

TravelPaws recommends that you read Virgin Australia’s criteria thoroughly and use their language when applying to travel with a carer.

Where do I go for any questions?

Contact Centre: 13 67 89

Special Assistance Phone: 1300 139 303

Special Assistance Phone via Relay Service:

  • Voice relay users phone 1300 555 727, then ask for Virgin Australia on 1300 139 303.
  • TTY users phone 133 677, then ask for Virgin Australia on 1300 139 303.

Special Assistance for Medical Needs Email: VA.Medical@virginaustralia.com

General Enquiries and Booking Assistance Online Form: You can also request assistance with your booking by filling out Virgin Australia’s online general enquiries form.

Please note, those contacting Virgin from outside Australia can find a list of Virgin’s international contact numbers here under the drop-down titled ‘Guest Contact Centre (Reservations and General Enquiries).’

Complaints 

Contact Centre: 13 67 89

Complaints Online Form: You can submit a complaint by filling out Virgin Australia’s online feedback form.

Complaints Mailing Address:  Virgin Australia Guest Relations- Complaints, PO Box 1034, Spring Hill, Qld, 4004.

 

3. Jetstar

Travelling with a Service Dog

TravelPaws recommends you read this link:

You can read up on information relating to travel with your Service Dog on Jetstar here.

Criteria for Carriage 

A dog is permitted to travel in the aircraft cabin on a Jetstar flight if it;

Is a Guide Dog accredited by a Guide Dog training organisation that can demonstrate membership of:

  • The International Guide Dogs Federation (IGDF). You can find a list of Guide Dog member organisations here.
      • The Association of the Blind WA.
      • Guide Dogs NSW/ACT.
      • Guide Dogs QLD.
      • Guide Dogs SA/NT.
      • Guide Dogs of Victoria.
      • Royal Guide Dogs for the Blind and Association of Tasmania.
      • Seeing Eye Dogs Australia.

Is a Hearing Dog accredited by a relevant association such as Lions Hearing Dogs Inc.

Is an Assistance Dog accredited by:

**No weight or length restrictions apply to Service Dogs carried by Jetstar.

If your dog is trained to assist with a disability but is not from an approved training organisation on the list above, it will require clearance to travel. Contact Jetstar Customer Service on 13 15 38 at least 14 days prior to travel to initiate a travel clearance application. Once initiated, your application will be forwarded to Customer Advocacy who will review the application and contact you directly to advise you of its outcome.

Please note that dogs who are not approved for travel in the aircraft cabin will not be able to travel with Jetstar as they do not have pressurised cargo holds.

Also note that you will be required to show a current Service Dog ID card, Service Dog accreditation or Jetstar approval letter on the day of travel to confirm your dog’s eligibility to travel.

How to Book 

To Note:

Please be aware that Handlers have reported varied experiences when navigating airline booking processes; some have found them to be successful and expedient, whilst others have encountered numerous errors and time-consuming phone calls.

Be especially conscious of the potential for misinformation. In TravelPaws’ experience, statements made on the airline’s website may not always reflect what you are told on the phone, and vice versa. If in doubt, double check and try to get any advice you are given in writing.

Booking Options:

You may make book yourself and your Service Dog over the phone by calling Jetstar customer service on 13 15 38. Please note that Jetstar does not have a dedicated special assistance line.

Alternatively, you may book yourself a ticket online through Jetstar’s online booking portal. The portal allows you to specify that you will be travelling with a Service Dog. If, after you have completed your booking online, you notice that the booking does not reflect the fact that you will be travelling with a Service Dog (eg. if an extra seat has not been allocated), make note of your booking reference number and call customer service on 13 15 38 to check the booking and update it if needed. Please be aware that TravelPaws has not been able to verify that this procedure works effectively. We would welcome your feedback.

Note also that when you book a Service Dog, an extra seat will be provided free of charge. Generally, you will be assigned a middle seat and the extra seat for your dog will be a window seat.

Whether your booking is accepted will depend on the flight’s availability. Jetstar does not otherwise limit the number of Service Dogs permitted in the aircraft cabin per flight.

At the Airport and During the Flight 

Jetstar has specific conditions of carriage that apply to Service Dogs and Service Dogs in training. TravelPaws recommends that prior to your flight you read this link thoroughly: You can read up on Jetstar’s Service Dog conditions of carriage here.

In summary, for all domestic and international flights;

  • The Service Dog must be accompanied by their Handler at all times in the airport and during the flight and be wearing their identifying vest, coat and/or medallion.
  • The Handler must ensure they have current identity documents available in their carry-on baggage to produce if requested, including an identity card issued by a member organisation of ADI or issued under the QLD Guide Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009, or an approval letter issued by Jetstar.
  • The Handler and Service Dog must generally pre-board the aircraft.
  • The Service Dog must be seated on a moisture absorbent mat on the floor in the space allocated by Jetstar. Please note that it is Jetstar's policy that customers must provide their own absorbent mat, Jetstar will not provide one. However, many Handlers report that Jetstar has provided them with an absorbent mat.
  • For safety reasons, the Service Dog must be restrained by attaching its leash to the aircraft seat leg, seat track ring or other tether point approved by Jetstar. The leash should have the ability to be shortened or lengthened as required.
  • The Handler accepts full responsibility for their Service Dog.
  • Service Dogs may be refused carriage if their behaviour compromises the safety of the aircraft. On the day of travel, the Pilot in Command has the final decision as to whether or not the Service Dog is carried, and they may impose any further conditions required in the interests of safety.

Please note that further conditions apply on international flights, and to Service Dogs under training. They can also be found at the link above.

Codeshare Flights 

Please be aware that if your flight is a codeshare flight, the relevant Service Dog requirements will be those of the airline operating the flight. For example, if your Jetstar flight is a codeshare operated by Qantas, your Service Dog will need to meet Qantas’ Service Dog criteria for carriage and conditions of carriage.

Travelling with a Carer

Jetstar requires passengers who do not meet the Jetstar Independent Traveller Requirements listed here to travel with an accompanying passenger/carer who is at least fifteen years old and is physically able to assist.

At the time of booking, advise Jetstar that you will be travelling with a carer and they will arrange for you to be seated together. Please note that carers are required to purchase an ordinary fare, as there is no discount available for Jetstar flights. TravelPaws recommends that you read Jetstar’s criteria thoroughly and use their language when applying to travel with a carer.

You can get more information on travelling with a carer on Jetstar airlines here or by contacting customer service on 13 15 38.

Where do I go for any questions?

Customer Service: 13 15 38

Customer Service via Relay Service:

  • Voice Relay users phone 1300 555 727, and ask for Jetstar on 13 15 38
  • TTY users phone 133 677, and ask for Jetstar on 13 15 38

Special Assistance Live Chat: To speak with a Jetstar representative online click the ‘chat now’ button located under the heading ‘have a question on specific assistance?’ at this link.

Please note, those contacting Jetstar from outside Australia can find a list of Jetstar’s international contact numbers here.

Complaints

Customer Service: 13 15 38

Complaints Live Chat: If your complaint is not resolved during the chat, you will be assigned a case number and the Customer Resolutions Team will get back to you within 15 business days.