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Can Parrots Fly on Airplanes?

Last Updated on February 19, 2024 by Carrie Stephens

All airlines have specific rules about traveling with live animals, but many large carriers allow you to board a plane with a parrot.

Restrictions are placed on how and when you can travel with a parrot. A pet bird is likelier to be welcome on an off-peak flight during temperate weather.

Flying with a parrot in-cabin is preferable but not always permitted. If a parrot needs to be stowed in the cargo hold, book a direct flight and label its cage as a “live animal.”

The airline will expect the parrot to remain calm and quiet. A loud, disruptive parrot, or a bird that escapes its cage, will be unwelcome on a plane and may result in a penalty.

There are risks to flying with a parrot. Neighboring passengers may have dust (dander) allergies, and the experience can be stressful for the bird, especially if the flight experiences turbulence.

Parrots Traveling in An Airplane Cabin

Many airlines allow parrots to travel in-cabin with their owners as carry-on luggage. Alternatively, the cage must fit under the seat directly before you.

Airlines have different rules on how many animals can travel in-cabin on a flight on a first-served basis.

If capacity is reached before your check-in, you’ll have no choice but to stow your parrot as luggage in the cargo hold and be reunited upon landing at your destination.

Here are the major airlines that allow birds to travel in in-cabin:

  • Aeroflot Airline.
  • Air Europa.
  • Air India.
  • Alaska Air.
  • Alitalia.
  • Delta.
  • Frontier.
  • Iberia.
  • Vueling.

Here are the airlines that allow you to fly with a parrot in the cargo hold:

  • Aegean Air.
  • Aeroflot Airline.
  • Air Canada.
  • Air India.
  • Alaska Air.
  • Alitalia.
  • British Airways.
  • Finnair.
  • Japan Airlines.
  • Qantas.
  • WestJet.

Unfortunately, American Airlines and Virgin Atlantic don’t allow birds on their flights.

Emotional Support Parrots on Airplanes

If you have registered a parrot as an emotional support animal (ESA), the same airline-specific rules apply to journeys with pet animals, including parrots.

ESAs aren’t offered legal protection during travel, so a “no birds in the cabin” policy still applies.

You may have heard stories of passengers taking ESAs onto airplanes, but laws changed in 2020. Airlines traveling to and from the U.S. are no longer legally required to accept ESAs in the cabin.

Unfortunately, peacocks, miniature horses, marmosets, and pigs were all allowed into commercial flights as ESAs, leading to negative headlines and changes to the law.

The Lancet Respiratory Medicine explains how risks to other passengers due to allergies were also a concern, especially as parrot dust can cause respiratory distress for people with allergies.

how to travel with a bird by air

Air Travel Safety for Parrots

While flying may be statistically the safest way to travel, there are undeniable health risks to taking a parrot on an airplane. Things to consider include:

  • Bumpy, turbulent flights are an injury risk to parrots.
  • The air on a plane may get thinner than usual, causing respiratory distress.
  • Parrots may grow stressed or overstimulated by all the activity on a plane.
  • If a parrot is stowed in the cargo hold, its cage may not be handled carefully.
  • X-rays can be stressful for birds.
  • The parrot will be confined to a cage for the duration of the trip to the airport, the check-in process, the flight, and the journey to your destination upon landing.

Only take a parrot on a plane if you can mitigate these hazards.

How Long Parrots Can Fly on Airplanes

Some airlines limit the time a warm-blooded animal is allowed on a plane to 12 hours. Discuss this when booking, knowing that shorter flights are always preferable.

Parrot Passports for Travel

A parrot won’t need a passport to board an airplane, but find out what documentation is required. A parrot should be microchipped, and you may need to provide evidence of a clean bill of health.

Taking your parrot for a veterinary check-up before boarding a flight is recommended, confirming that the bird is healthy and has a disposition strong enough to withstand the journey.

How To Travel With A Bird by Air

If you want to fly with a parrot, here’s how to make the journey safe and tolerable:

Direct Flight

Air travel is stressful for a parrot, so avoid connecting flights. The bird may grow distressed if you need to change planes, especially with long waiting times between flights.

Connecting flights carries risk when you aren’t traveling with a parrot in-cabin. A bird may be shipped to the wrong destination or left alone in an unsuitable storage facility for hours.

Travel at Quieter Times

Avoid flights in the peak season when traveling with a parrot. Airports will be significantly busier at this time, meaning the bird will be subjected to overstimulation.

Flights are likelier to be fully booked during peak vacation travel times, so even the most accommodating airline will be strict about the conditions of traveling with live animals.

If you fly at a quieter time of year, airline crew members are likelier to be flexible with how the bird is stored. If every seat on the flight is occupied, rules must be followed to the letter.

Imagine that the person sitting next to you has an allergy to birds.

If this is the case, and the flight is fully booked, you’ll have no choice but to stow the parrot and be separated for the entire journey. On a half-empty flight, the other passenger may be relocated.

Avoid any season where temperatures will be extremely high or low. If the temperature is above 85OF or below 45OF, airlines may refuse to allow a pet bird onboard.

Check Parrots Are Allowed To Fly

Before booking flight tickets, check the parrot is entitled to travel. Don’t leave anything to chance, finding that you didn’t read the small print when you arrived at the airport.

Things to check and confirm before finalizing a booking include the following:

  • Does the airline reserve the right to change its policy on animal passengers at short notice or with zero notice?
  • Are a limited number of pets allowed on a flight, issued on a first-come, first-served basis?
  • Do different rules apply for long-haul flights or international travel with parrots?

It’s advisable to speak to the airline over the telephone to get the answers to these questions rather than relying on generic information you’ll find on the website.

international travel with parrots

Travel Cage

A regular parrot cage will be too large to take on an airplane, especially if you intend to keep a bird in-cabin. You’ll need the right-sized travel cage, so check the airline’s rules about cages.

The cage for a parrot must allow enough space for the bird to stand upright and stretch its wings, but it can’t be so big that the bird risks being tossed around during turbulence.

Once you have a travel cage, encourage the parrot to spend some time in it before the journey.

Secure The Parrot

A travel cage will be the bird’s home for several hours, so you must ensure it is safe and comfortable, especially if you’re separated during the flight. Consider the following factors:

  • Security. Ensure the cage is locked tightly and the parrot can’t escape. Tieing wraps around doors or hatches may be necessary.
  • Perches. Remove all perches from the cage bar one, and place this no higher than an inch from the cage floor. Air travel can be bumpy and turbulent, and falls must be avoided.
  • Cover the cage. If a bird can’t see the activity at an airport, it’s less likely to grow overstimulated.
  • Provide food and water. You may be unable to replenish food or water during the flight, so ensure your parrot has everything it needs.

Air travel will likely be a frightening experience for a parrot, but these steps will ease some of the stress.

Observe Quarantine Regulations

If you’re flying overseas, check quarantine rules that affect parrots upon arrival. Some countries insist that birds are isolated upon landing, especially if you bring them home for the first time.

Check domestic regulations to ensure the species isn’t restricted. Some states won’t allow Quaker parrots because they’re invasive, while others want a license for specific birds.

Many airlines accommodate requests to fly with a parrot, especially on short-haul flights at quieter travel times. However, there will always be risks in taking a pet on an airplane.