Can You Bring A Bird On A Plane? (through TSA)

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Traveling with animals by plane can result in a stressful journey for the owner. It is one thing to have a bird with you in a car or boat, but having a bird while traveling is quite different. So can people travel with birds on planes?

It is legal for passengers to take pet birds on the plane. The passenger is usually permitted to have the pet bird in the cabin on domestic flights, provided the bird meets the airline’s criteria. Pet birds are not permitted to be in the cabin on international flights but must be in the cargo hold. 

Can You Bring A Bird Through TSA?

The Transport and Security Administration (TSA) website states that small pets are permitted through TSA checkpoints. However, the airline determines whether the small pet, in this case, a bird, can be in carry-on bags or must be checked in.

Once at the TSA checkpoint, passengers are required to remove the bird from its carrying case so that the case can go through the X-ray machine. Travelers must ensure that their pet stays calm while out of their case.

It is recommended that owners use a bird harness to keep their pet bird under control while the TSA agents inspect the animal carriers. Remember that it is ultimately up to the passengers to check the airline’s specific policy regarding travel with birds.

Can You Bring A Bird On A Domestic Flight?

Most airlines allow travel with pet birds, but specific regulations and restrictions can vary from airline to airline. Nevertheless, plane travel is stressful for birds, so passengers should take the necessary precautions to reduce their animal’s stress as much as possible.

Fortunately for bird owners traveling on domestic flights, most airlines permit owners to bring their birds in the cabin with them, provided they can fit under a passenger seat. The limit of birds allowed per person in the cabin usually does not exceed two small birds.

Even if they fulfill other requirements, certain bird species cannot be brought into the cabin if they are loud or have a strong odor. These birds will likely need to be placed in the plane’s cargo hold with the checked-in luggage.

Do You Have To Pay To Bring A Bird On A Plane?

The chances are that travelers with pet birds will have to pay a fee, whether domestically or internationally. The fees can vary between airlines. Airlines operating within the U.S. typically do not charge below $100 for pet travel, and the pet fee can go as high as $350.

Most airlines charge a one-way pet fee, so travelers who plan on returning will be subject to paying this fee twice.

Can You Take An Emotional Support Bird On A Plane?

Some travelers need their emotional support animal when on a flight. Most people are used to seeing dogs accompany a passenger, but can a bird qualify as an emotional support animal?

Emotional support animals are not the same as service animals. Airlines have policies for emotional support animals that passengers should consult. Documentation to prove that the animal is needed on the flight must be presented to the airline (usually a letter from a doctor).

In all cases, travelers hoping to use their birds as emotional support should contact the airline well ahead.

Why Can You Not Travel With Birds During Certain Periods?

Weather affects a passenger’s ability to take a bird on a plane. For the pets’ well-being, most airlines consider the outside temperature. If temperatures exceed certain limits and the bird is expected to travel in the cargo hold, likely, the bird will not come on board.

In various areas of the U.S., this leaves out most of the summer and winter and some of the spring and fall. In addition, some airlines have so-called “blackout dates” for pet travel. The Christmas period and Thanksgiving weekend are typically included as blackout dates.

Travelers who expect to travel during periods where it is likely that temperatures will exceed the imposed thresholds must be ready for last-minute changes in plans. Unplanned weather conditions, such as heatwaves, could also mess up plans, so passengers must check the forecast leading up to the flight.

How To Best Prepare A Pet Bird For Plane Travel

Plane travel is not just a stressful experience for the pet bird owner but also for the bird itself, especially if they are placed in the plane’s cargo hold. Thus, pet owners should prepare well in advance for the journey, as good planning will lead to a less stressful trip.

As mentioned, when going through TSA, passengers should have the equipment to restrain their bird(s) and techniques to keep them calm in the airport’s stress-inducing environments. It is also a given that passengers should have checked the airline’s specific requirements to avoid disappointments.

Booking a nonstop flight is in a traveler’s best interest to avoid additional stress. Pet owners should also let their birds get used to their travel carriers before the journey. They can put items familiar to the bird, such as treats and toys, that can relax the bird.

Can You Bring A Bird On An International Flight?

Traveling with birds internationally is a lot more complicated than traveling with birds domestically, as are new elements for pet bird owners to consider. In all cases, birds cannot be brought as carry-on on international flights, so bird owners must be comfortable with the bird being the cargo hold.

Some countries have banned certain birds to protect their wildlife from diseases. Other countries might accept these birds but require them to be placed under quarantine upon arrival. Thus, even before checking the airline requirements, passengers should check whether their bird will be allowed in the destination country.

If the destination country has no problem with a passenger’s bird, the owner must still ensure that the airline requirements are met. They can easily find these requirements through the airline’s website.

Can You Bring A Bird On A Flight To The U.K.?

Passengers may bring birds on flights to the U.K. under certain conditions. Birds non-native to the country must meet certain requirements, which you can find here.

If the traveler comes from a country outside the EU, the bird must have a health certificate and pet bird import license from the Centre for International Trade.

Passengers traveling with animals under the protection of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) must acquire a permit; these include parrots.

Can You Bring A Bird On A Flight To Australia?

Australia, specifically its Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment, has strict measures to protect its local wildlife; however, it is not impossible to travel with a bird to Australia.

The rules vary based on the bird’s species and country of origin. The birds’ rules remain strict as only “household” species from New Zealand are allowed to be brought in. These include parrots, lovebirds, parakeets, finches, budgerigars, or other domesticated pet birds.

Some airlines traveling to Australia also require owners to use specific animal carriers, so pet owners should buy the airline-approved carrier before traveling to Australia.

Can You Bring A Bird On A Flight To Canada?

Bird owners can bring their birds on flights to Canada, but only in the plane’s cargo hold. With Air Canada, passengers are expected to pay a fee ranging from $170 – $518.