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 — 714 Comments

  1. Virgilio – service animals must be able to lie down by your feet without obstructing cabin operations. Your Chihuahua should meet those restrictions.

  2. Dawn – if your pet is traveling as checked baggage, then you will collect your pet at baggage claim. If your pet is traveling as air cargo, the pick up will be at your airline’s cargo facility.

  3. Your Dog must fit under the seat ? Is that apply to service dogs ? I got a 11 lbs. chiguagua small/medium service dog, I am planing to travel to Nicaragua on Avianca.

  4. Can anyone tell me what the proceedure is when collecting your pet from Orly airport that has travelled in the hold. Is there a designated area to collect the pet from or is it the baggage hall. I am getting conflicting advise and airline not helping! Thanks

  5. An extremely safe sedative for a traveling canine would be a YOUNG LIVING essential oil….I’ve had excellent results with Peace & calming, also lavender can be effective. Research the benefits of the oils on calming animals…. 100% ORGANIC!!!

  6. Harold – it is a good idea to microchip a pet. Over 80% of pets who are not microchipped that are separated from their owners never see their owners again. Millions of pets are identified by a microchip. Chances of issues at the implantation site are extremely rare.

  7. Nori – you will need a rabies certificate proving current rabies vaccination when re-entering the US. Ask your airline whether they will require a health certificate.

  8. what is requirement to reentering the united states specifically the state of Georgia. Ill be traveling internationally(to mexico) with my pet in December and wanted to know what were the requirements to reentering.

  9. Gail – once you enter the EU (including the UK), you can use your pet’s Annex IV form for any EU country that you enter. Once you are in the EU for close to 4 months, you can visit a veterinarian in the EU and get your pet an EU Pet Passport. If you travel outside of the EU (such as Morocco or Serbia or other countries), your dog will need a rabies titer test done according to EU regulations before re-entering the EU. Assuming the UK is your point of entry to the EU, find regulations on importing your dog here:

  10. We have a 3yr old golden doodle that is a registered assistance dog, so she will be with us in the cabin. We will be traveling all around the UK, Morocco, and most of the European countries for 1 year by all modes of transportation. Our main goal is to keep her from being quarantined at any time. Are there certain steps we can take to insure we will not have any issues, that would encompass all of the countries that we will be traveling to?

  11. Hi Alicia – in addition to the health certificate, your pet will need a rabies certificate documenting a current rabies vaccination no sooner than 30 days before traveling to the US. As for calming your pet, you may want to consider one of these: We have given them to our dogs and they are very effective at taking the edge off. Try them at home before you travel.

  12. Hello Everyone 🙂
    I’ve done a lot of traveling myself, but I’ve never taken a pet on an airplane before. . I am traveling from Edmonton AB (Canada) to the United States in May 2017 and due to a recent loss in the family, I will be traveling with my small breed dog. I am unsure of what all I will need to ensure I do not have issues crossing into the US or returning home. . I understand that I will need her health records which is not an issue, and a signed health certificate done within 30 days of travel. . But is there anything else that I need?, and what do you recommend for a nervous dog?, I’ve been working with her in the carrier and in the car. . But what can I do to prepare her for the airplane trip?, any suggestions or tips would greatly be appreciated. . Is there any safe sedative that can be given in a low dose just to take the edge off for her?.

  13. Andy – it would be a good idea to bring proof of ownership that is dated if possible. Otherwise, your veterinarian can reflect the age on a health certificate.

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