Pet Birds and Air Travel: What You Need to Know

Flying With Your Pet Bird

Taking your pet bird on an airplane is not a simple process.
••• Keith Tsuji / Getty Images News / Getty Images

You may have seen a fellow traveler bring a small dog or cat into the airplane cabin or take a larger dog with them as checked baggage. But did you know that a few US airlines allow you to bring your pet bird with you on your flight, provided you meet certain conditions?

Which Species of Birds Can Fly With Me?

Each airline specifies which birds are permitted as carry-on baggage or as checked baggage.

Typically, your bird must be a "household" bird – a pet, in other words, not a wild bird – and it must be odorless and quiet. Hawaiian Airlines, for example, says that your bird must be "harmless, inoffensive, odorless and not require attention during flight." Most airlines that accept pet birds will not allow you to bring chickens or other poultry, only pet birds such as finches and parakeets.

If your bird is particularly noisy, call your airline to find out whether your bird is a good candidate for in-cabin travel.

Can I Bring My Bird With Me Into the Cabin?

Some airlines allow birds in the cabin, provided their kennel will fit under the seat in front of you. Others will only accept pet birds as checked baggage. You will be charged a fee, typically $75 to $125, to bring your bird with you on a domestic flight (see table, below).

Can My Bird Travel in the Cargo Hold as Checked Baggage?

This depends on your airline.

Some airlines allow birds in the baggage hold, while others do not.

Can My Bird Travel With Me at Any Time of Year?

Many air carriers restrict pet travel when the outside temperature is or is predicted to be above 85 degrees Fahrenheit or below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, particularly if your bird must travel as checked baggage.

This would exclude most of the summer, most of the winter and some spring and fall travel dates in many parts of the United States.

Some air carriers have blackout dates for pet travel. Typically, these dates include Thanksgiving weekend and the Christmas travel season. Blackout dates vary by airline.

If you must travel at a time of year when temperatures could exceed or dip below these benchmarks, you should be prepared to change your travel plans at the last minute or fly without your bird.

Can My Bird Travel With Me to Another Country?

Perhaps. You will need to carefully research the requirements of your airline, your destination country and any stopover countries on your itinerary. The best way to do this is to go to your airline's website and search for terms such as "pet travel," "travel with animals," and "birds."

Will I Encounter Any Other Restrictions?

Some airlines will not permit pets to travel from particular airports or cities. For example, Hawaiian Airlines will not accept pets from Phoenix. United Airlines cannot accept birds on some flights, but will accept them on others..

Pet fees vary by airline. Airlines charge one-way fees for pet travel, so you will pay that fee twice, once on your outbound journey and once on your return trip.

See the chart below for details.

The most important restriction you may encounter involves cross-border travel. Some countries will not accept birds shipped from certain nations. Island nations and states, in particular, try to guard against diseases, and often impose a long list of requirements for travelers wishing to import pet birds.

Pet Travel Information By Airline

All prices are for one-way trips in US dollars.
AirlineOne-Way Pet FeeBirds Permitted?Notes
Aeroméxico$40 - $180Yes, in baggage holdRestrictions apply; chickens are permitted
Air Canada$50 - $270Yes,as cargoRestrictions and blackout dates apply
Alaska Airlines$100Yes, in cabin and baggage holdKennel size restrictions apply. No noisy birds.
Allegiant Air$100NoDogs and cats in cabin only, in lower 48 states
American Airlines$125 - $200NoDogs and cats only; restrictions apply
Delta Air Lines$125 - $200Yes, in baggage hold or as air cargoDomestic (US) flights only; weather restrictions apply
Hawaiian Airlines$60 - $225Yes, in baggage holdQuarantines, blackout dates and destination and temperature restrictions apply
JetBlue$100NoDogs and cats in cabin only
Southwest Airlines$95NoDogs and cats in cabin only; domestic (US) flights only
United Airlines$125Yes, in cabin or as air cargoDomestic (US) flights only for in-cabin travel; stopover fee applies for layovers of 4 hours or more
Virgin America$100NoDogs and cats in cabin only