Boost your frequent flyer points with pets

Points hacking with pets

  • Discover the ins and outs of plane travel for your pets.
  • Ways to earn frequent flyer points with your pets.
  • Also, prepare to be amazed at some of the weird pets people take on planes.

You’ve finally taken the plunge and decided to move overseas or take that extended holiday you’ve been talking about for years. But what are you going to do with your precious pet? As a loved member of the family, leaving them behind is not an option. They go where you go. You’re just not sure how.

62% of Australia's population own pets
- Animal Medicine Australia

Australians have a real penchant for animals, with one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world. According to Animal Medicine Australia, 62% of the population own 24 million pets. Considering the population of Australia is just over 24 million, that’s a lot of pets. 

Walking the dog in a new city

It doesn’t, however, mean every household has a pet. There may be more than one dog, cat, fish, reptile or small mammal per home. This means that moving abroad or taking extended trips with your pets in tow can seem like a daunting prospect.

Thankfully, travel companies are aware pet owners are reticent to leave their fur babies behind and provide guidelines to make booking transport easy. Of course, it’s an added cost to what could be a potentially expensive trip, but there are ways to keep costs in check and bag a few air miles into the bargain.

Can I take my pet on the plane?

Peacock in an airport
Bar Stool Sports

If you’re flying within Australia and out of Australia, only service dogs are allowed in the plane cabin, and all other pets have to go in the hold.

Each airline has its own policies for pet travel so make sure you check with the carrier you’re flying with, and take time to read the fine print. Most airlines have a list of breeds you are and are not allowed to transport. For example, snub-nosed breeds of dogs and cats which may be prone to breathing difficulties are banned.

If you’re flying internationally, the airlines recommend pet travel is booked through an IPATA-approved pet shipping company.

Can I use points to pay for my pet to travel?

Airlines may be welcoming of having your pet on the plane, but unfortunately their good will doesn’t extend to being able to book pet travel using points. Generally, pet bookings have to be made separately and usually before you book your own trip.

Depending on which airline you’re travelling with, seek out their pet booking page on their website and follow their recommendations for booking.

Fees for pet travel vary depending on the size of the animal, what breed it is and whether you need a cage. A list of fees can be found on airlines’ websites.

Koala on a plane

Maximising points return on your credit card with your pet

Even though you can’t pay for your pet to travel using points, there’s no reason why you can’t use your credit card to accumulate more points.

In Australia, most frequent flyer credit cards are affiliated with Qantas or Virgin. Which card you opt for depends on how much you think you’ll travel with either carrier, and of course what deal is available at the time of signing up for your card.

Earn Qantas Points with the following pet services:

  • Earn points with Mad Paws, a range of pet sitting services that offer 500 Qantas Points for your first booking and subsequently, 1 Qantas Point for every A$1 spent.
  • Need a new collar or pet food? Qantas Shopping has partnered with national pet retailers like Petbarn and Pet Stock which allows you to earn up to 4 Qantas Points per A$1 spent. The caveat? Remember to sign-in via Qantas website. 

The Qantas Premier Platinum Credit Card is currently offering 120,000 bonus Qantas Frequent Flyer points when you meet the spend criteria, which is enough for a return ticket from Australia to Europe. 

Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points!

Terms and conditions apply
Qantas Premier Platinum Credit Card

Receive up to 120,000 bonus Qantas Points (20,000 points per month for the first 6 months) when you spend at least $1,500 each month.

Reduced annual fee of $199 p.a. in the first year ($299 p.a. thereafter).

Enjoy 6 months interest-free on your first purchase of selected Qantas products and services.

2 complimentary Qantas Club lounge invitations per year.

Citigroup Pty Limited ABN 88 004 325 080 AFSL No. 238 098 Australian credit licence 238098, is the Credit Provider and Issuer of the Qantas Premier credit cards on behalf of Qantas Airways Limited ABN 16 009 661 901.

This credit card offer is subject to change and may not be directly related to the content of this article.

Earn Velocity points when using the following pet services

While both Qantas and Virgin Australia are carriers that accommodate for pet travel, only Virgin Australia allows you to earn frequent flyer points when your pet travels on the same domestic flight as yourself. 

  • Pet transport with Virgin Australia earns you a minimum of 300 Velocity points per flight for each pet carrier (a maximum of two). Velocity members with Silver, Gold and Platinum status earns more points respectively when travelling with their pets. 
  • You can still earn points if your pets travel unaccompanied. JetPets see that you earn 3 points per A$1 spent. 
  • Pet Insurance has also partnered with Velocity to help you boost your Velocity points offering 3 points for every A$1 spent on each insurance policy for your pets. 
  • Like Qantas Shopping, you can earn Velocity points when shopping for your pets via the Velocity eStore. My Pet Warehouse is offering 2 points per A$1 spent. 
Want to earn more points? Keep an eye out for cards like the American Express Velocity Platinum Credit Card. They offer 100,00 bonus Virgin Australia Velocity points time to time (once you fulfil the spend criteria), along with a complimentary domestic flight and entry into the Virgin lounges.  Also, check out other credit cards that earn Velocity points.

Flying with your pet

Unless you’re planning to drive around Australia, the main mode of pet transportation in and out of Australia is flying/shipping. However, long quarantine periods can apply.

There are a few companies that can arrange shipping for your pet, like JetPets, who can arrange door-to-door transportation.

If you’re not sure whether your pet would cope with flying, check out the RSPCA’s website to see the things you need to consider before booking your pet a spot on the plane.

And remember, animals lose their health status once they leave Australia. Pets can only return from approved countries, which may affect the decision on whether to take your pet with you.

The weirdest pets allowed on planes

Emotional support duck
Washington Post

While Australia and Europe don’t generally allow pets in the cabin (apart from service animals), the United States has much more relaxed laws for travelling with your furry friends. In fact, most US airlines recommend taking your pet in the cabin with you rather than subjecting them to travelling in the hold.

And unlike many other airlines, they are welcoming of other animals as well as cats and dogs. At least they were, until more and more people were passing off the strangest pets as service animals to get their pet on the plane.

Here are a few eye-opening stories about travelling with pets.

  • In January 2018, it was reported that United Airlines turned away a woman with an emotional support peacock. Despite seen wrangling the bird into departures, the woman tried to convince authorities she really needed her pet with her.

  • Emirates airlines only allow cats and dogs to travel if they’re kept in the hold, but it’s completely fine to have a falcon in the cabin if travelling between certain airports in Dubai and Pakistan. Don’t know about you . . . but sitting next to a falcon on a plane is not appealing.

  • A Saudi prince once bought 80 plane tickets for his 80 falcons. The falcon is the United Arab Emirates’ national bird, and falconry is a pursuit of the rich elite in the region.

  • A pig was removed from a US Airways flight in 2014 after it became disruptive on the flight.

  • Not only was an emotional support turkey allowed on a Delta Airlines flights in January 2016, it also was given VIP treatment and wheeled through the airport on a wheelchair on arrival at the destination.

  • A blind lady from Jacksonville, Florida, started using a miniature horse as a guide dog after two previous guide dogs died of old age. She was allowed to take the horse in the cabin.

  • Another traveller took his baby kangaroo service animal on the plane.

Regulations for travelling with pets are constantly changing so it’s best to contact the airline you’re travelling with to find out their specific policies.

And be mindful that not all pets enjoy travelling, so if you’re not making a permanent move overseas it may be better for the pet to be left with a friend or at boarding kennels. They just might prefer that over the trauma of travelling anywhere at all.