Preparing for a long flight


Mar 4, 2018
Washington State
Nico - male Turquoise GCC
Hi all,

I am moving permanently to Japan from Seattle in a few days.

I understand the concern with moving birds overseas and I considered other options, but I really couldn't bring myself to re-home Nico (green cheek conure) after our 3.5 years together; living with me is all he's known other than his breeder and brief stints at the bird-sitter’s, and he is very bonded to me and my fiancé. When I got him in 2018 I had no clue I would be moving overseas, but plans change and life happens…

After months and months of frantic planning and paperwork (might post a thread on this later since there are so few resources on moving parrots internationally), the logistics of moving are complete.

The situation: I am absolutely terrified of what might go wrong during the 10.5 hour flight to Tokyo, and have spent many nights on the phone/computer trying to find some way to take Nico with me in-cabin, to no avail. Avian Influenza rules(which restricts where I can have layovers with Nico) and rules of major airlines (no pet birds in-cabin) means I have no choice but to put him in cargo for the long flight.

The details: I am flying with JAL (Delta doesn't allow pet birds at all) whose website claims he will be in temperature controlled places for as much of the travel as possible, but obviously Seattle during late October can get pretty cold and I’m worried about him having to sit out before he gets into the plane (forecast says temp will be about 50 degrees tops, we will be taking off at around 1:30pm so at least it’ll be the warmest part of the day; Tokyo should be between 60-65 degrees when we land).
He’ll be in a hard plastic crate as per the requirements, and the cargo hold is described as “temperature controlled and dark to encourage sleep.”
As soon as I am able to collect him after the flight he’ll be going straight home with me (an hour by car).

The silver lining: Nico has been on planes many times before, although always in-cabin and for less than 6 hours. He’s generally really good with traveling and is used to being taken to a bunch of different places (by car, bus, plane, bicycle, etc).

The frantic questions: What can I do to ensure that Nico has the safest and most comfortable flight possible? What should I bring as food/water (he’s not super good at drinking from a water bottle)? What should I do for him/have ready for him when we get there?


Supporting Member
Aug 21, 2010
San Diego, California USA, Earth, Milky Way Galaxy
Goffins: Gabby, Abby, Squeaky, Peanut, Popcorn / Citron: Alice / Eclectus: Angel /Timneh Grey: ET / Blue Fronted Amazon: Gonzo /

RIP Gandalf and Big Bird, you are missed.
Unfortunately few if any airlines permit "pets" in cabin aboard international flights. Exceptions limited to certified service animals. I empathize with your choice of re-homing Nico vs calculated risk of flying as cargo.

Airliner cargo compartments are in the same pressure vessel as passenger cabin, separated by structural floor. Conditioned air generally flows from cabin to cargo areas, then outwards via outflow valve. Pilots have temperature controls for cargo areas and readout of actual temperature.

Most critical phases of air shipment include chain of custody from drop-off to aircraft, and movement upon arrival to pet-pickup.. Thankfully most airlines have strict temperature embargoes during extremes.

Pellets best food for durability and shelf life. You might get by with conventional water dish, though bottle ensures more stable supply. Airport temps seem reasonable overall!! Wishing you and NIco the best, odds overwhelmingly in your favor!!


Supporting Member
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Oh, I did similar researches on this topic when I really wanted to fly to Germany to pick up a lovely Meyers (which sadly I couldn't in the end and driving during a heatwave for 12 hours would've been insane), In the end no airline between Germany and HU even allowed pets in the cargo, even less in the cabin.

As Scott mentioned this is a very rigorous practice if there are animals in the cargo part. The pilot is always informed if there are. So regarding the temps I wouldn't worry way too much.

For the water dish I highly suggest a deep metal dish you can put into the carrier, so even turbulences the water doesn't spill out too much (similar dishes are often sold with backpack carriers). I understand that 10h is a loooong time, if not more. You can always clip some watery veggies and fruits for the flights (apple for example, or even a Nashi pear which doesn't contain so much sugar, if you can find any).

Parrots are sturdy little things, While the flight might be long, and the following day even longer, But I'm sure Nico will soon adjust and forgive you for all the "turbulences" and be thankful that you decided to keep him.


Supporting Member
Feb 6, 2010
Maryland - USA
Parker - male Eclectus

Aphrodite - red throated conure (RIP)
Fabulous advise above - and I strongly urge you to post your experience prepping for international flight because you’re absolutely right, very few resources.

Don’t worry about the temperatures. 50s will be chilly, sure. But its not life threatening at all. He’ll be unclmfortbale for a period of time - unfortunately that can’t be avoided, and that will make you sad. But that’s all, an inconvenience is all it is. Your boy will be ok for that time.

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