Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet

Pet Travel - Clearing Airport Security with a PetYou and your pet are traveling in the cabin of an airplane together. You have checked in at the reservation desk, your pet is quietly lying down in their airline compliant pet carrier, you have tickets and possessions in hand. Everything is going according to plan. You proceed to the TSA security checkpoint. As you wait in the line, you wonder – what is coming next? How will TSA officials deal with your furry traveling companion?

PetTravel has received many questions about how people traveling with pets will be treated once they get to the front of the security line. Certainly, with all the confusion at security checkpoints and the flow of passengers intent on clearing the line and proceeding to their gate as quickly as possible, it is helpful to know how you and your pet will be cleared through security.

According to TSA: “Our security procedures do not prohibit you from bringing a pet on your flight. You should contact your airline or travel agent, however, before arriving at the airport to determine your airline’s policy on traveling with pets.”

Security Screening

More from TSA: “You will need to present the animal to the Security Officers at the checkpoint. You may walk your animal through the metal detector with you. If this is not possible, your animal will have to undergo a secondary screening, including a visual and physical inspection by our Security Officers. Your animal will NEVER be placed through an X-ray machine. However, you may be asked to remove your animal from its carrier so that the carrier can be placed on the X-Ray machine.”

There is a good chance that you will be asked to remove your pet from the carrier so that the carrier can be run through the x-ray machine. You will walk through the upright metal detector with your pet. If you are traveling with a pet who is high spirited or scares easily, you can request a room so that your pet will not escape should you not be able to contain them when out of the carrier.

There has been a lot of news lately regarding the introduction of the controversial body scanners in many airports. If the old stand up metal detectors have been replaced with body scanners, both the pet and the owner are subject to pat down. Again, you will remove the pet from the carrier and make it available to security officers should they decide to inspect your pet. Should you require a pat down, you should put your pet back in the carrier first.

Being prepared is key to traveling with your pet. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your gate. Keep your accessories (coat, purse, laptop or other items you must carry) at a minimum so you will have free hands to handle your pet at security checkpoints. Take your pet out of the carrier after you have removed your shoes, belt, etc. and put your items on the table to be scanned. Be sure and carry a leash in the carrier to loop around your wrist to be sure that your pet cannot escape when you remove them from the carrier. Even calm pets can get nervous and scared when around groups of people and in unfamiliar environments.

We would welcome your feedback about your experiences at security checkpoints. Please make a comment so that you can help others who are traveling with their pet. We appreciate your time.

More information on pet travel by air


Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet — 567 Comments

  1. Jen – good question which we have never been asked before. This would be a TSA call. You may want to go to your local airport and ask for a TSA supervisor and inquire. Or try inquiring by email and get the response in writing.

  2. I am taking my 14 yr old to the airport n since he is an unaccompanied minor they let me walk him to the gate. I am also moving with my cat out of state n need to bring her with me. As long as she is in a carrier can I go through security with her if her n I are not flying?

  3. Cindy – if your dog is traveling in the hold, there must be a food/water bowl mounted on the crate door. You should freeze water in the bowl before checking your dog in at the airport. If your dog is traveling in the cabin with you, you should limit food during the flight as it may stimulate your pet’s bowels. Little pieces of kibble should be fine and you can feed it to him by unzipping the carrier just a little bit to get your fingers in the bag. As for water, you can use this nifty water bottle top or give your pet a piece of ice. ( or use something like this:

  4. Hi I’m bringing my dog with me and i want to know if I have to put food and water in the dog carrier before I get on the plane or if I can put food and water while I’m in the plane sitting in my seat

  5. Elena – the United States will accept the EU pet passport. They will need proof of rabies vaccination no sooner than 30 days prior to import. You should also travel with a health certificate issued within 10 days of travel.

  6. Hi Jil – the way your turtle can fly depends on your airline’s pet policy. We do not know of any commercial airline that will allow turtles to travel in the cabin. Contact your airline to see if it will be allowed to fly as checked baggage in the hold. You will need a pet crate for it to protect it when traveling.

  7. Hello! Please advise what kind of documents I will need to enter with my dog to USA, Boston airport, arriving from Tashkent(uzbekistan) via Istanbul?
    My dog (Pekinese, 6.5 kilos) is the holder of a valid EU Pet Passport, microchipped with all vaccinations needed in the EU.
    Thank you very much for the information.

  8. Hi:) my name’s jil. I just want to know if can i bring my turtle to LAX airport. Because I will be traveling to San Jose.

  9. Hello Iris – to leave Greece and enter Norway, your cat will need to be microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies (in that order, but the same vet visit is fine). Ask your vet to get your cat an EU Pet Passport and 21 days after the rabies vaccination, you will be good to go!

  10. Hi, i am travelling from Greece to Norway and i want to take my cat with me. She doesnt have a micro-chip so do i have to insert her one? How much will that cost? And in addition does my cat need a passport or only a health book(I don’t how to call it so i hope you understand)?

  11. The EU considers all of South Africa as high-rabies, so you will need to prepare to bring a dog, cat or ferret to Malta. Your pet will need a titer test after microchip and rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months before entering Malta. You can find more details here with links to instructions and forms if you need them:

  12. Is Cape Town a controlled rabies area? I would like to fly my pet to Malta, via Frinkfurt in Transit?

  13. Kunto – your pets must be able to fit in an airline compliant carrier that will fit under the seat in front of each passenger. Most airlines allow only one pet per passenger. The issue with Shih Tzu breeds is that they are snub-nosed and many airlines do not like to transport them in the cargo hold.

  14. Michaela – you will need to clear customs in Washington or New York and take a domestic flight to Dallas. You should allow a minimum of 2 hours to accomplish this if your dog is traveling in the cabin or as checked baggage.

  15. Hi! I’m going to fly sas from Norway to Dallas but will have to change airplane in Washington or New York! My dog will travel as hand luggage! How much time should I plan to have at the airport? Cause I think I have to declare my dog at costum when I arrive into United States, and not at my final destination that will be Dallas?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>