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Airline Bird Carriers: Preparing A Bird Carrier For Airline Travel

Table of Contents

Can I Take My Bird On A Plane?

Airline Approved Bird Carrier

Celltei Cabin Kennel (

Airline bird carriers meet specific requirements. IATA, the International Air Travel association specifies minimum requirements for transporting animals. 

Approved bird travel carriers must comply with the following standards:

  • 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 litter or absorbent lining. Wire or other ventilated sub floors are generally 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.

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 it's 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: Tips for Airline Bird Carriers

Airline Approved Bird Carrier

    • 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.

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