Sunday, August 21, 2011

Budgies on an airplane?

One thing I was wondering about while being on the plane is whether a budgerigar would be capable of making the same trip as me. Would the air pressure be too much for them? Would it be too cold for them in the cargo room? Would they actually survive a journey by plane?

Transporting any kind of small animal on a plane is dangerous and stressful. Apparently it's not cheap either, and some airlines just don't allow it. Each airline may have a different policy on birds, so you have to contact them about this in any case. Another problem is that budgies are indeed sensitive to drafts and cold air. The place where they store animals is chilly, the outside air at 30.000 feet can be as cold as -55°C (-67F). People who operate the animal care room often don't know so much about a small bird's health, as most animals travelling are dogs and cats. You don't know how rough your budgies will be handled once they are out of your hands.

Photo © Talk Budgies Forums
How do budgies judge air pressure? No scientist knows the answer to this, but the pressure is apparently not the biggest problem because budgies have survived airplane trips before. One guess is that budgies can detect the pressure through their inner ear. Another possibility is that budgies detect changes in altitude through the air sacs that connect to their lungs. Still, I don't think it can be good for them.

There is another way to take budgies on an airplane: if you are lucky, you can keep them with you in the cabin where you can be with them all the time. If your airline accepts this, you better make an early reservation. There might be people on board who report being allergic to birds. Some airlines only allow one animal per cabin during flight. 
It's also a good idea to get a certificate of health from your veterinarian, to prove that your budgie is healthy to make the trip. They don't always check it, but it's good to have it with you just in case. 
You also need to buy a special transport cage for your bird. It should be small enough to fit under your seat or on your lap. Make sure the bars are close enough to each other so your budgie can't escape. 

I hope one day there will be special airplanes for budgies. Image ©
On the day of departure, you need to provide food and water in the transport cage (budgie carrier). You can put some fresh vegetables in the cage so there is no risk of dehydration
Bring a towel or a cloth, to cover the budgie cage if your bird is travelling with cargo, or in the cabin if there is a lot of commotion around you. It's important to keep your budgie calm, because the journey will be hard for him, much harder than for anyone else in the airplane. You can also use the cloth to wipe up spills if necessary. 
In case of emergency - I hope this never happens to anyone - when your budgie gets wounded during flight, you have to stop the bleeding! Bring some cotton balls just in case. It's extremely dangerous for a budgie to lose blood (I'll come back to this in one of my next posts) so please keep an eye on your bird during the flight. 

Personally, I would not take my birds on an airplane, unless it was the only option. Even then I think it would be a bad idea because I think all the stress could be too much for budgies. But it's up to you to rule out the goods and the bads about this mode of transport. I have no statistics on the survival chances of budgerigars on board of an airplane. If you decide to do this, then please do whatever you can to make sure your budgie has a safe and smooth flight.


  1. what about beared dragons are they allowed to fly?

  2. still dont't know if i can travelmy budgie by plane or better to bring with a car and over sea

  3. still dont't know if i can travelmy budgie by plane or better to bring with a car and over sea

  4. What cage do you have? It looks a lot like the one I have.

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  6. Yes, I think it is cruel to put these tiny beings through such an ordeal. I left my birds in an aviary with the breeder when I had to work in the middle east even though I would have much preferred to keep them with me. Instead, I put their needs before my own, which I think any responsible and caring owner has a duty to do. Missed mine but knowing they were safe, happy and stress free was much more important to me.

  7. I am planning to move abroad in few months and I have 2 budgies that I love very much. Unfortunately the only option I have is to travel by plane and I know it's very hard and stressful this kind of trip for budgies, but I don't want to leave them behind with someone else. I know that nobody else will have the same patience with them and to take so much care of them as me and I just don't know what to do. I am planning to discuss with a vet and hopefully there is a way of taking them with me without causing them any harm. Is there anyone else who already traveled with their budgie on a plane? I would appreciate getting some advice and knowing how it worked for someone else.

  8. I have a baby budgie. Arley. She frequently travels from Seattle Washington to Florida to see her grandparents. And we've never had any problem. She gets a vet check and a certificate to fly 10 days before just to Florida, she doesn't need one for the way back. We purchased a small travel hamster cage from Amazon about the size of a people magazine maybe a little smaller, and got a therapeutic parakeet perch to put in it. You can find those on Etsy. She checked in on the plane and side under the seat in front of us. We had a blanket for her in case she got cold. being flight attendants loved her and brought her crackers every single time they made drink runs up the aisle. I was allowed to put her on the fold down table and everybody loved her. She showed no signs of stress, she chirped quietly the whole way. She even got praise from the flight attendants on her way out for being such a good passenger. Now I have a very very chill budgie, she is the person who controls my husband and mines life and thinks she's the world. So my advice is to start to try to get your babies in a travel cage and used to it before you fly. Make sure you pack a little bird seed and their favorite snack, but don't give them their favorite snack until your in flight. Again we had no problems with our baby. So I wish you lots of luck! And I can't even get you a link to the travel cage that we used. Petzilla Basic Hamster Cage Habitat, Travel Carrier with Exercise Wheel Kettle Food Dish Accessories Included, Transparent Base, 9 x 6.7 x 5.9 Inch and also the therapeutic bird perch.

  9. I don't want anything to happen to my budgie if I take her on a flight but we might be moving overseas and my budgie is disabled so I don't want to give her to someone who may treat her wrong.