A passenger on board a Virgin Australia flight from Sydney to Adelaide has slammed the airline after she witnessed baggage handlers leave a dog on the tarmac at Sydney airport.

Elise Willemsen, who posted the photo to the airline’s Facebook page, said the incident was “not good enough” given the 30 degree temperatures at the airport at 6.30pm.

“Thought airlines were supposed to change their policy on animals boarding flights after the luggage and not sitting on the tarmac,” she wrote on Virgin Australia’s Facebook page.

“I could only imagine how hot this poor dog is! Not good enough.”

The passenger, who is also the owner of two bulldogs, said the dog crate sat on the tarmac while a trolley of luggage was loaded onto the plane.

“Virgin needs to take responsibility,” one person posted in response to the photo.

The airline, however, says the dog was in the shade of the baggage belt and believe the animal wouldn’t have been on the tarmac for any longer than 20 minutes.

“We take the welfare of all animals travelling on board with us seriously,” a statement to news.com.au read.

“All standard procedures were followed by our team in the loading of this pet on flight VA436.

“In line with standard procedures, the pet was kept in a shaded area next to the baggage belt to protect it from the elements. Our team conducted a final water and welfare check on the pet before it was loaded. It only takes a few minutes to load pets onto the aircraft and this pet was only brought out onto the tarmac when it was required for loading.

“We take pride in the safe transportation of pets around our network and we will continue to maintain the highest of standards when getting pets ready for their flight.”

According to the airline’s website, once a domestic pet is dropped off to the airport and prior to loading, Virgin Australia will keep the animal “undercover in shaded, well-ventilated areas for as long as possible before being taken on board the flight”.

“We [Virgin Australia] also focus on keeping the loading and unloading time at the aircraft to a minimum when handling your pet to ensure they are not exposed to the elements for longer than is necessary.”

It is unclear how long the dog was on the tarmac before being loaded in to the cargo hold by ground crew.

Earlier this year, a woman blamed Qantas for the death of her dog on a flight to Brisbane, just days before another dog died on a domestic flight with the same airline.

Kay Newman said her boxer Duke died after being left for more than an hour in extreme heat on the tarmac at Sydney Airport on December 19.

Duke’s death happened days before Sydney man Anthony Balletta’s bulldog was found dead in his crate at Melbourne Airport after arriving on a Qantas flight.

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