In the words of Lilo and Stitch, “Ohana means family, and family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten”.

Virgin Australia has announced plans to become the first airline in Australia to welcome pets on board, allowing small cats and dogs to travel alongside their owners on specific domestic flights.

Image: Virgin Australia

While this concept is novel for Australian airlines, it’s common practice among major carriers in the US. Virgin Australia intends to designate limited rows for passengers with pets, requiring animals to remain in airline-approved carriers under the seat in front of their owners throughout the flight.

Although there will be a fee for bringing pets on board, assistance dogs will continue to fly for free.

The decision to introduce the service comes from feedback from carrier’s social media followers and research indicating strong interest from Australian pet owners.

Further details, including pricing and routes, are yet to be disclosed.

Pending regulatory approval, the pet-friendly service is expected to launch within the next 12 months.