Two celebrity travellers were allowed to have their French bulldogs keep them company on an Air New Zealand flight because they were providing a "psychiatric service''.
The two pooches, Frances and Dexter, belonging to British TV host Steve Jones and his American girlfriend Phylicia Jackson, were sitting uncaged at their owners' feet on a 10-hour flight from Los Angeles to London.
The pair were sitting across from travel journalist Jenny Southan who was writing a review of the carrier's premium economy seats last week.
She questioned the airline on its policy about allowing the dogs uncaged in the cabin.
The airline today defended allowing the canines on board, saying they were "service dogs'', which were allowed on flights in and out of the United States.
US Department of Transport legislation regarding "non-discrimination on the basis of disability'' required all airlines operating to, from and within the US, must carry service dogs.
Service dogs included guide dogs, hearing dogs and psychiatric service dogs.
"Where a passenger seeks to be accompanied by a psychiatric service dog...they must provide documentation from a licensed mental health professional treating the passenger,'' an airline spokeswoman said.
The service dog policy applied only on flights to and from the US and not to flights to or from any other jurisdictions or domestically, the spokeswoman said.
Ms Southan said she had never seen uncaged dogs in a plane cabin before.
"It was quite unusual to see. I don't know where they went to the loo because it's a long flight.
"They weren't running around or anything or even barking, they seemed quite content.''
Jones has been seen on New Zealand screens hosting US X Factor. He was axed after two seasons.
Jackson, a model, posted photos and videos of the dogs - and their premium travel arrangements - on social media websites with captions including "first class Franny'' and "pooches on board''.