Travel With Your Parrot

What To Know Before Cargo Shipping Your Parrot & How To Choose A Travel Carrier

Deciding whether to ship your bird or bring them with you in the cabin depends on a number of factors, including the size of your parrot and the airline you choose to travel with.

The airlines mentioned in this post permit household birds to fly in the cabin so long as they fit comfortably in a carrier that stays beneath the seat in front of you.

Budgies, parrotlets, lovebirds, cockatiels, and typically, green cheeked conures fall within the group of cabin-travelers.

Meanwhile, medium to large-sized birds such as macaws and cockatoos are forbidden from traveling in the cabin, and will need to be shipped in the cargo hold.

If you’re frightened by this, consider the following statistic: in 2016, half a million pets flew in cargo holds, and of those animals, 26 died and 22 were injured. Those numbers should reassure you.

The two biggest myths surrounding the pet cargo hold are:

‣ Temperatures in the hold are unregulated and become dangerously hot or cold.
‣ The pet cargo hold is not pressurized.

In reality, airlines that allow animals in the cargo hold are climate-controlled to maintain the same pressure and temperature of the cabin.

The real danger exists during the load-in process, when pets end up waiting on the tarmac while the rest of the cargo is loaded or unloaded.

For this reason, pet-friendly airlines enforce pet embargoes when weather conditions risk the animals’ safety- essentially refusing to ship pets under severe weather conditions.

Ready To Ship Your Parrot? Here's Your Checklist:

Visit your veterinarian beforehand to obtain a clean bill of health. Skittish or unhealthy birds should get healthy first or stay at home.
Airlines are not obligated to ship your parrot on the same flight as you, even when advanced arrangements have been made. If possible, opt for a non-stop route. If you are switching to a different airline on a stopover, you will need to pick up and re-check your bird.
Book your travels in the spring and the fall to avoid severe weather conditions like snowstorms and heatwaves.
Airlines reserve the right to refuse transport of your parrot for a variety of reasons, such as an improper carrier, or the bird's aggressive behavior.
Live Animal and Directional stickers attached to the kennel are mandatory, and should include your name and phone number, any medical or behavioral considerations, and a picture of your parrot. Consider including your avian veterinarian's contact information as well.
Avoid tranquilizing your bird at all costs. Instead, choose natural, homeopathic stress relief droplets, like Bach's Rescue Remedy.
Be proactive. Ask the ticket agent at the gate for confirmation that you parrot has been loaded. Then, inform the captain and crew that there is a live animal in the hold, and ask that they please monitor the temperature and pressure at all times.

IMPORTANT NOTICE:

Many airlines, including Delta, have applied temporary pet shipping embargoes until further notice due to COVID-19.

Fortunately, professional pet couriers exist to face the challenges of pet shipping for us.

Many couriers can assist with air and ground transport, registration and customs paperwork, flight booking, kennel accommodations, and pet vaccinations according to the country or state you’re moving to.

Companies like PetRelocation even work with airlines to load or unload pets separately from the rest of the cargo, so that they never have to wait on the tarmac.

Given everything we’ve covered so far, it’s clear there’s some arrangements to be made before choosing a travel carrier.

Carriers for transporting parrots in the cargo differ from those we use in the cabin. On top of that, some airlines require soft carriers, while others require rigid, and size requirements also vary across the board.

THE INTERNATIONAL AIR TRANSPORT ASSOCIATION (IATA) HAS SPECIFIED A HANDFUL OF REQUIREMENTS FOR COMPLIANT CARGO CARRIERS. CONSIDER THE FOLLOWING:

Containers must be made entirely of welded mesh or wire mesh are not suitable for air transport.
If a container has wheels, they must be removed or rendered inoperable.
Each animal in the container must have enough space to turn about normally while standing, to stand, to sit erect, and to lie in a natural position.
The interior of the carrier must be smooth with no protrusions that the animal can bite or scratch to cause damage to the integrity of the container in any way.
The whole of one end of the container must be open and covered with bars. Bars must be welded mesh or smooth expanded metal which is securely fixed to the container so that the animal cannot dislodge it.
The roof must be solid, but ventilation holes are allowed over the whole surface provided they don't reduce the integrity of the strength of the carrier.
Large doors require additional hinges and two to three means of fastening to be fully secure.
The total ventilation must be at least 16% of the total surface area of four sides. All openings must be beak and talon-proof.
A green "Live Animals" label is mandatory. "This Way Up" tags must be placed on all four sides of the container.
Water must be provided if total journey time exceeds 12 hours. Water containers must be affixed within the shipping container with outside access for filling that does not require the opening of the container or allow potential escape.

Extra Tips To Help Prepare Your Parrot For Travel:

Test out your travel carrier as often as possible, and as far in advance as you can. Practice getting your parrot inside the carrier, then take them on a walk around the block to help familiarize them with it.

Make sure your parrot is in good health before traveling. Visit a legitimate avian veterinarian and be sure to ask about any natural stress relief you’re considering using in advance of the trip.

Bring a small, breathable blanket or towel that is large enough to cover your carrier to keep your parrot calm and warm.

Booking Tickets And Airport Navigation: What To Expect

For many airlines, a pet shipped domestically cannot be booked until 14 days prior to departure. But don't wait until 14 days prior to see if this applies to the airline you're flying with.
Pet embargoes are occasionally enforced the very day of your travel. Call the day before your flight to verify no embargoes are in place, particularly if severe weather conditions are likely or anticipated.
Pets aren't guaranteed to be shipped on the same schedule as their owner. To help prevent this, avoid flying on holidays and weekends when airlines are particularly busy, and book early morning flights to create more flexibility for your parrot to catch a same-day flight.
If you must transfer from one airline to another, your pet will not make the connection. If you have to transfer, it absolutely must be with the same airline.
The USDA requires that you give your pet food and water within 4 hours of check-in, but not within 4 hours of the actual flight.
Some airlines require customers shipping pets to attach a bag of food to the container so that, when necessary, flight staff can pour in additional food without opening the door.
Typically, you will have to drop your pet off at a separate cargo location at least three hours before departure time. You will have to pick your pet up from a separate cargo location as well.
When traveling internationally, many airlines such as Delta require customers to use a pet shipper that is approved by the International Pet and Animal Transportation Association.

You will find a database of IPATA-approved Pet Shipping companies at this link.

Pilots are given information about the cargo load prior to take-off, but you should still remind them when entering the plane that your beloved parrot is in the cargo.

If for some reason you conclude that taking your pet on vacation won't work out...

I highly recommend that you complete and download a Pet Sitter Treatment Authorization Form. This is exactly what it sounds like- authorization for your pet-sitter to make potentially life-saving medical care decisions in your absence.

Traveling with your parrot is about so much more than great pictures for the gram, it’s a tremendous way for the two of you to bond by exploring new sights together.

While there’s definitely a lot to do, have no doubt that it’s all worth it- so long as your parrot’s safety and wellbeing remain your highest priority throughout.

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