Shipping Birds by Airlines: Regulations, Container & More

Carriage of Birds by Means of Airlines (2000)

There were a number of legislation proposed in the United States Congress in the year 1999 that would mandate that by the end of the year 2000, airlines that transported animals as cargo by air transport must have implemented significant procedural and structural modifications. There was a significant amount of lobbying done by animal rights organizations in order to get these regulations passed, and there was a significant amount of effort made by people who kept a variety of animals as pets (birds, reptiles, mammals, etc.) in order to fight against these plans.

The requirements that were included in the legislation that was ultimately approved by lawmakers were as follows: 1) airlines are required to provide their employees with training in the proper handling of animal cargo; and 2) airlines are required to routinely report any issues that arise with the shipments of animal cargo. The extremely costly mandate that every cargo hold be retrofitted so that it can accommodate animal shipments did not make it into the final version of the Act.
However, transporting birds and other animals is not a straightforward process. The following is a brief overview of numerous difficulties pertaining to shipping, including the requirement of using a “recognized shipper,” the timing of shipments, the requirements of shipments, and acceptable containers.

The Requirement of a “Known Shipper”

A document titled “Change No. 55” was published by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in 1999 with the intention of improving the safety of air cargo transportation. The FAA issued a warning to the airline industry that there will be greater checks and audits of the methods that the airlines use to handle their cargo. The requirement that a shipper be identified applies to shipments of any kind of products and is not exclusive to shipments of animals.

According to United Airlines, a person is considered a known shipper if they have completed three shipments with the airline during the previous six months. In order to provide evidence of this, one is required to submit a request for “recognized shipper” status alongside the air bill numbers associated with each of those shipments. In addition, Delta has a need for known shippers. In some areas, the staff of the air-freight department has not yet been qualified to manage the new regulations. As a result, these cargo departments are informing potential shippers that they are unable to accept cargo from shippers who are unknown to them. Shippers may be informed by cargo employees in certain circumstances that they are required to use a courier service. Of course, courier agents charge costs.

A number of freight brokers have divulged a straightforward method for becoming well-known as a shipper: Send three packages, each weighing less than one pound, one at a time, counter-to-counter, over the course of three weeks, with an interval of one week between shipments, and space each shipment out by one week. Before you go ahead and accomplish this, you should check with the airline of your choice to make sure they agree to let you become a recognized shipper using this method.

Planning the Timing of Air Cargo Shipments

It is a difficult task in and of itself to organize the transport of one or more birds by air freight. When making the arrangements, you should anticipate spending between a half an hour and an hour on the phone. In addition, the majority of airlines demand that passengers make reservations at least twenty-four hours, and sometimes even several days, in advance. Several different airlines each have their own unique toll-free number for scheduling the shipment of animals or pets. The fact that the employees who answer these calls are stationed in a central office, which is some distance away from the cargo areas, is the primary issue with these numbers.

It is highly recommended that you collect the phone numbers of the departments of air freight in your area and call them immediately. The local cargo agents will have the most intimate knowledge of the amount of available space on the aircraft, and they will also have access to the computerized data pertaining to the scheduling. In more than one instance, I’ve discovered that the information offered by the 800 number is insufficient, whereas the local cargo brokers have been of the utmost value to me.

Whenever I’m making travel plans, one of my top priorities is to book the flight that takes the shortest amount of connecting time. When you need to schedule a connecting flight, the majority of airlines require a minimum of two hours to pass between planes in order to make the connection successfully. The ticket agents for connecting flights will typically put the bird or animal on the next available aircraft; hence, the person who will be receiving your animal should be made aware of this fact.

It is essential to pay attention to the temperatures not only at the airport of departure and arrival but also at the connecting airport. When scheduling an animal shipping, the majority of airlines adhere to a temperature range that does not go over 45 degrees Fahrenheit to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. During the warmer months, certain shipments could need to be rescheduled for nighttime flights, or else they would have to be sent by Priority or Dash instead of Air Cargo.

Conditions pertaining to Shipping

There are certain requirements that come from the airlines, and there are some that come from the state. Some airlines require passengers to present health certificates signed by a veterinarian that detail their current state of health. A declaration identifying the species of the bird and indicating whether or not it is endangered is required by some airlines. Certain states, such as New Jersey and New York, mandate that all birds brought into their territory be banded before they can be released. The provisions of food and water for the bird or animal are included in the other transportation requirements. The majority of bird breeders do not put water in the shipping boxes of their birds. Instead, they supply meals that will keep the birds hydrated, such as apples, oranges, and other types of fruits. Check with other breeders to ensure that you are providing everything the bird needs for the journey, and make sure there is enough food for more than just one day.

Container Requirements

There are certain regulations in place regarding the types of containers that must be utilized while transporting different kinds of avian species. The staff working with air freight, or the agents who answer the 800-number, can provide an overview of these standards. The container should be just large enough for the parrot to be able to stand normally and turn around without being crowded or uncomfortable. This is the fundamental rule of thumb. Containers that are so huge that the bird has a lot of area to move about in could actually be harmful to the bird because it increases the risk of the bird being damaged while being transported. In order to prevent any issues, fully grown parrots should be transported one per container at a time. Because of the increased risk of injury, it is recommended that perches be placed at floor level. It is common practice to ship birds of a similar size together and to supply them with perches.

Some breeders construct an adequate wire cage that is sized to fit inside plastic shipping crates in order to house birds such as cockatoos and adult parrots, which are capable of chewing their way out of plastic containers. In addition to being impenetrable by birds of prey, containers are required to include apertures on all sides to ensure proper air flow. In most cases, one side of the crate is required to have a stand-off as well as a wire window. This is done so that in the event that something in the cargo slides against the crate, the stand-off will prevent the window from being completely covered. Some people construct their own wooden crates, while others use plastic pet carriers of the appropriate size for their feathered companions. According to comments made by air-cargo agents, the fact that shippers frequently fail to adequately prepare the shipment crate is the most challenging aspect of transporting animals. The cargo agents want to be able to look inside the crate to ensure that the bird is not being transported with something that is against the law or potentially hazardous.

When moving birds across the country or within a state, one of the best ways to do so in a short amount of time and with reduced anxiety is to ship them. It is possible to maximize the likelihood of a successful shipment by taking the following steps: cultivating a positive working relationship with one or more air cargo departments; carefully planning and organizing shipping schedules; preparing containers in accordance with the requirements of the birds and species, including the provisioning of food; and placing pre-shipment and post-shipment phone calls to the recipient of the shipment to ensure that everything has been comprehended.

A New Bird-Shipping Service Is Now Available From Continental Airlines (1997)

When it comes to shipping birds and other animals, Continental Airlines now provides a new service known as QUICKPAK that is both speedier and more reliable. This service was recently revealed at the convention of the American Federation of Aviculture. The over-the-counter flight-specific service known as QUICKPAK was first introduced in June of 1997 for the purpose of transporting live animals and birds. These shipments have to be presented at the QUICKPAK counter an hour before the scheduled departure time of the flight, and they will be ready for pickup at the standard time for the recovery of luggage. It is necessary to make reservations in advance through the Continental Live Animal Desk. Dial (800) 575-3335 to reach the Continental Live Animal Desk, or visit the cargo office in your area. There are three different sizes of packages that can be accepted as QUICKPAK packages. QUICKPAK has a minimum charge of $149, which includes tax, for the tiny kennel, which is defined as having a length of less than 52 inches and a weight of less than 25 pounds. (Standard kennels have dimensions no greater than 21 by 16 by 15 inches. The weight restrictions for the medium kennel are 26 and 38 pounds, and the size ranges from 53 to 66 linear inches. The fee for this kennel is $209. The intermediate kennel ranges from 67 to 77 linear inches in length, and it can hold anything from 39 to 59 pounds. It costs $239.) When shipping counter to counter, the shipper is responsible for making the initial payment. When the shipper obtains insurance or asks for declared valuation, the shipper is required to provide a health certificate. Maximum valuation or declared worth is $1,200 per airbill.

The Provision of Follow-Up Services for Your Customers

Within the first twenty-four hours after the birds have been shipped, you are responsible for confirming that they have arrived without incident and determining whether or not the customer has any pressing inquiries regarding the birds. In order to successfully introduce the young bird to its new home in its new cage, it is essential to have information on the location of the food dishes in the cage as well as the diet: Dishes containing food must to be put in locations that are easily accessible to the bird. It is important that the dishes contain the kinds of things that the bird is accustomed to eating. Another call a week following delivery to check on the state of the bird or birds lets your clients know that you care about them and their birds, and it offers you the opportunity to answer questions that have not been presented in the prior calls.

Crating and Shipping

What kind of shipping containers do you have available for use? A lot of breeders make use of the plastic animal carriers that are widely accessible and have durable wire doors. On the other hand, unless the doors are secured with straps or wire, they can be opened with relative ease. A carrier that is simple to open increases the risk of the birds being lost. In addition, if the plastic used to make these crates is even somewhat flexible, they have the potential to break open in the event that they are thrown from a great height onto a hard surface, such as the tarp that covers the runway. As a result, the safest way to ensure that the crates are not going to fall apart is to utilize strapping tape or metal straps. It is possible for the carrier to be crushed if a huge and heavy container falls onto it. Because of these factors, the majority of persons who carry birds utilize plywood crates that were custom-made according to their requirements by nearby manufacturers. The shipping of live birds inside the United States is subject to a number of regulations that have been imposed by the various airlines. These are the requirements that your shipping crates must fulfill in order to be acceptable to the airlines. Get in touch with each particular airline to find out what requirements they have. There are some airlines that do not allow passengers to ship birds or other animals.

Transportation of Infants Who Have Not Been Weaned Yet

It is not advisable to ship babies who have not been weaned yet because this practice can be a recipe for catastrophe if the necessary safety measures are not implemented. There is typically no need to worry about the temperature of the birds as long as they do not have pin feathers. However, it is best to transport younger birds in a group so that they can maintain the correct temperature throughout the journey. It is of the utmost importance that the container be clearly labelled with the words “Live Birds,” so that the employees of the airline do not place the crate next to a shipment that has just been refrigerated.

Preventing Incidents on Board Ships

Crates that contain live birds need to have clear and conspicuous warning labels affixed to each and every side of the container. This should make it abundantly clear that the crates contain living creatures. Even though containers are clearly labeled, things can still happen that have an effect on the birds that are contained within them. When the flight attendants were not watching, a crate of adult birds that had been placed on a moving belt to transport them up to the cargo hold was accidentally moved and pushed over the ramp into the tarmac. I was there to witness this unfortunate event. The workers were unable to see what happened to the package because it had landed on its side. The attendants had just done their work when one of them noticed the crate, picked it up, and gestured to the other attendant, who shrugged his shoulders. After that, the attendant placed the crate, which was still inverted, into the cargo hold of the airplane. If these had been breastfed infants wrapped in a towel and placed in a crate, the towel would have ended up on top of the infants. In the event that heating units were utilized, those heating units would also be located on top of them. During the course of the flight, they would be placed in a circumstance that was at the very least uncomfortable and possibly even perilous. It turned out that one of the adult birds kept as a pet had been so shaken up by the event that it stayed unconscious until its owner had the opportunity to calm it down with soothing words and careful handling.

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