So you’ve decided to take your bird with you when you travel on a plane. Airline travel with a pet can be stressful. No doubt.
Now you need to figure out how to get your feathered friend on the plane with you, either in cargo or in the cabin, or maybe as an emotional support animal (ESA), if you meet the requirements.
Each of these types of bird travel require some preparation, Each one poses its own unique challenges that require special attention, so be sure to review both options below before you board your flight with your bird in tow.
If you need an ESA travel letter or housing letter, you can order it on BirdSupplies.com through Diane Burroughs, LCSW.
Can I Take My Bird On A Plane?
Celltei Cabin Kennel (celltei.com)
Many airlines allow you to fly with a pet bird in a bird carrier. All bird carriers must meet specific requirements outlined by IATA. You can make arrangements to purchase a carrier that meets IATA requirements online. Here are the basic requirements that IATA suggests.
Size: Bird travel carriers must be of sufficient height to allow your parrot to perch naturally without its head or tail touching the top or bottom.
Perch: A wooden perch of appropriate diameter must be firmly attached inside of the bird travel carrier.
Door: The door on the bird carrier must be easy to open from the outside yet secure enough to keep the parrot inside. All bird travel carriers must have doors that provide ventilation.
Interior: Bird travel carriers must have a solid, leak-proof floor. Cover the floor with an absorbent lining. Usually paper towels will do. Wire or other ventilated sub floors are generally not allowed; pegboard flooring is prohibited. These requirements provide the maximum cleanliness for the parrot during travel. All internal edges on the bird travel carrier must be smooth with no sharp projections.
Ventilation: The bird travel carrier must be well ventilated with openings that make up at least 14 percent of the total wall space. At least one-third of the openings must be located in the top half of the bird carrier. The bird travel carrier must have side 3/4" rims to prevent ventilation openings from being blocked by other cargo.
Grips and Markings: Bird travel carriers must have grips or handles for lifting to prevent cargo personnel from bite injuries. Bird travel carriers must be marked "live animals" on the top and one side with directional arrows indicating proper position of the bird carrier. Lettering must be at least 1 inch high.
Animals per Kennel: Airlines may have more restrictive requirements, such as allowing only one adult parrot per kennel. Be sure to check with the airline you are using.
Which airlines allow pets in cabin?
The truth is that it changes all of the time. It's best to inquire at the time of your trip. From time to time, it is unwise to travel with bird, like for instance when there is an avian flu outbreak. Some destinations have very strict quarantine requirements.
Please note that all information and prices are subject to change.
Information by Airline
All prices are for one-way trips in US dollars.
One-Way Pet Fee
$40 - $180
Yes, in baggage hold
Restrictions apply; chickens are permitted
$170 - $518
Yes, as cargo
Restrictions and blackout dates apply
Yes, in cabin and baggage hold
Kennel size restrictions apply; noisy birds are prohibited
Dogs and cats in cabin only, in lower 48 states
$125 - $350
Yes, as cargo on most flights
Weather, airplane type and destination restrictions apply
Quarantines, blackout dates and destination, weight and temperature restrictions apply
Small dogs and cats in cabin only
Dogs and cats in cabin only; domestic (US) flights only
Yes, in cabin or as air cargo
Domestic (US) flights only for in-cabin travel; stopover fee applies for layovers of 4 hours or more. No in-cabin pets to or from Hawaii.
How do you travel with birds?
Check with your specific airline prior to booking your flight to insure that they allow bird carriers and parrots in the cabin.
Inquire about restrictions the airline has regarding size restrictions for the bird carrier and for the bird.
Make your reservation as early as possible. FAA regulations allow only two pets in the main cabin.
Budget a minimum $50-$100 each way for your parrot.
Pay for your bird's ticket in advance and ask for at least two receipts
Get a Passport Style Holder to keep your documents in (Health Certificate and Receipts for Pet's ticket)
Obtain a health certificate for your parrot from a veterinarian within 10 days of return flight
Preparing Your Pet Bird For The Flight
Purchase an airline approved bird carrier that fits under the seat in front of you. The maximum height allowed is generally 8"-9". The Celltei Pak-O-Bird Air Cabin Bird Carrier and the Cabin Kennel Bird Carrier meet most airlines in cabin criteria.
For small or fearful birds, place a smaller cage inside the pet carrier in case you have to remove your bird for inspection purposes. Place a perch and food and water cups inside the carrier Do not line the carrier with substrate or paper prior to going through airport security.
Clip your bird's flight feathers prior to going to the airport just in case you need to pull your bird out of its bird carrier in the airport. The last thing you want is for your parrot bird to break a blood feather by getting it caught in the ventilation holes during the flight
Day of Flight: Airline Travel With Pet Birds
Feed and water your bird prior to placing it in the bird carrier.
Place fresh fruits inside the food dish and millet in the carrier. Grapes and oranges are ideal.
Place an ice cube in the water dish. It will melt and provide your bird with water during the flight.
Confirm your flight before heading to the airport on the day of travel.
Make sure that you have your parrot's reservation paperwork prior to leaving home.
Arrive at the airport at least two hours prior to your flight so that you can get through airport security.
At the airport, inform airport counter personnel that you are traveling with a live parrot with reservations when you check in.
Request that airport security hand-search your bird carrier rather than allowing it to be inspected through the X-ray machine; If you must run the bird carrier through the X-ray machine, remove your parrot from the bird carrier.
Please note that the selection of bird carriers that are airline approved for medium to large birds are few and far between. You may need to purchase a universal pet crate and adapt it for your particular sized bird. Check with your particular carrier to determine their specific requirements.
Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in anxiety disorders and nutrition for mental health. With over 30 years experience, in a range of settings, she’s created thousands of successful behavior plans to help turn around challenging behavior. She’s authored a number of books on supporting challenging behavior in birds.
Diane Burroughs, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist trained in ABA therapy techniques. She specializes in avian anxiety disorders and is certified in Nutrition For Mental Health. Diane has written a number of bird behavior books and she offers behavior consultations. She's developed a range of UnRuffledRx Science-backed Parrot Wellness Supplies.
Diane's products have been featured in the Journal of Avian Medicine and Surgery and at Exoticscon, a conference for exotic pet veterinarians. Her bird collars & supplements are stocked in avian vet clinics and bird stores throughout the US. With over 30 years in the field of behavior, Diane has created thousands of successful individualized behavior plans that help pets thrive.
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