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Airlines are increasingly accommodating jet-setting pets – even in SA!



Gone are the days of travellers leaving their pets at home when they go on holiday, and airlines across the world are scrambling to bridge this gap in the market.

There is nothing sadder than having to say goodbye to your furry friends when you go on holiday, watching their sad eyes as you reverse out of the driveway.

But, as more and more travellers opt to take their fur babies with them when they travel, airlines are adapting to meet this need.

According to a report by Grand View Research, the global pet travel services market was estimated at USD 1.96 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.69% from 2024 to 2030.

The report cites factors such as increasing pet adoption rates and humanization trends, rising number of tourists travelling along with their companion animals, pet-friendly travelling services and hotels, and increased enthusiasm among people for travelling after the pandemic lockdowns, for the boom in the pet-friendly travel trend.

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Pet-friendly airlines in South Africa

Currently the only local airline that allows pets in the cabin of the airplane is LIFT. They, however, only allow small dogs (7kg or less) to travel in their aircrafts.

There are some travel requirements that need to be met before your dog can jet set with you:

  • According to the airline’s website, only one dog is allowed per passenger and the dog must be at least 10-weeks-old to fly.
  • Your pooch will also need to travel in a an approved purpose-built soft-case dog carrier bag that is well ventilated. The dog carrier bag may not exceed dimensions of L – 55cm x W – 35cm x H – 28cm, and puppy training pads/absorbent sheets must be placed in the dog carrier bag.
  • While you need to buy a plane ticket for your dog, at the same cost as your own ticket, your furry friend will not have the luxury of sitting on the seat. Your pup must remain in his carrier for the duration of the flight, which must fit completely under the seat in front of the window seat reserved and remain there at all times.
  • When booking a flight for you and your pet, you will be required to provide your pet’s original vaccination book showing that your dog’s vaccines are all up to date.

Visit LIFT’s website for more info on travelling with your small dog.

International travel with your pet

Turkish Airlines introduced pet-friendly travel on several of their local and international flights in February this year. The airline allows cats, dogs and birds on a variety of their flights.

On Turkish Airlines, your pet is, the weight of your pet, with its crate or cage, should not exceed 8kg. Crate sizes should not exceed 23cm height, 30cm width and 40cm length.

If your pets weigh more than 8kg, or their crate doesn’t meet size requirements, your pets are still welcome to fly in the cargo compartment.

Visit Turkish Airline’s website for more information on booking a flight for your pet.


In the United States, an airline called BARK Air allows pets to board the plane with their owners – no carriers required.

Furry passengers on BARK Air are the five-star guests and even get treated to soothing music, scents and pheromones to ensure optimum comfort. They also get treats and other refreshments during their flight.

For the moment, the airline only offers flights between London, New York and Los Angeles, but it hopes to cover other routes in the near future.

But, be prepared to pay a pretty penny for this luxury travel experience for your fur child.

Visit BARK Air’s website for more information.

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