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 — 628 Comments

  1. Frank – if you fly in and out of Poland on the same airline, then your pet should not need to clear customs unless the layover is very long and your pet is traveling in the cargo hold.

  2. Maximo – we do not have regulations to import chickens to the Philippines. You can try the Bureau of Animal Industry – National Veterinary Quarantine Service.

  3. I am planning on transporting a pup from the Netherlands to the United States with a connecting flight in Poland. Since the Netherlands is considered to be a “rabies free” country, will I have to follow the rules as dictated by Poland? Or since I am the same airline in the same airport on my connecting flight, will I have to go through their customs/health inspection?


  5. Donna – we are not aware of any exceptions to Mexico’s rabies vaccination requirement. You may want to contact the Mexican Embassy and inquire.

  6. We will be traveling to Mexico with our Boxer who is my emotional support dog. She has remediated auto-immune disease and can not be vaccinated. What do I need to do so she can go to Mexico with me?

  7. Hi Rene – it totally depends on what country you are traveling to Massachusetts from. If it is a domestic flight, then your cat will be allowed to fly as long as it is old enough. All that said, technically, your pet is not protected from rabies until 21 days after the first vaccination.

  8. I will travel with a cat to Massachusetts soon. She had het vaccinations and rabies shot. How old should the rabies vaccination be, before she can fly? is two weeks enough or shoud it be 21 days after the rabies shot?

  9. If I’m bringing a 2 months old puppie miniature dauschound from Texas I don’t need rabies the puppie can travel with me and just the health record is that right ?

  10. Vinee – your dog will need proof of rabies vaccination administered no sooner than 30 days of entry, a health certificate issued in English within 10 days of entry and a screwworm inspection. A licensed veterinarian can help you with all these requirements. No quarantine if they are all met. If your dog is traveling with your parents, it can travel as checked baggage. Get its crate early and get it accustomed to being in it. Get the best crate you can find (like these: and attach the top and bottom with metal hardware. It is important to keep your pet safe when traveling.More tips here: Find an airline that flies the entire route. Do not change airlines along the way.

  11. Dear Admin – I am trying to get my 7 year old female Labrador into the U.S. From India. She does have hormonal imbalances but otherwise in good health. My parents will be coming along with her…. Will there be a quarantine? Other than shots and vaccinations and her very recent health certificate what else is expected? This is the first time and I am finding it extremely difficult to get appropriate information – we have a urgent need for my parents to be here and are trying best to big our dog as well. Any help, suggestion, information, guidance will be HUGE blessing. Thanks in advance.

  12. Maria – no quarantine for your bunny when entering the US. It should have a health certificate issued shortly prior to travel. Will need to research airlines and will update the post. Where are you flying from in Denmark?

  13. Hi!
    I love your site as it has helped a lot. I’m moving in a year to Oregon,USA from Denmark with my rabbit in cabin. DO you know any airlines that will allow my bunny with my to USA in cabin? Also do you know anything about the quarantine in USA? As far as i know there is non when it comes to rabbits, but i just want to be 100% sure. I’ve mailed Delta and they said no, still waiting for united airlines…
    Thank you so much.

  14. It’s obvious after reading all of the above that I will have to find a Plan B – my cat CANNOT be removed from his carrier…we would NEVER get him back in :( He is highly anxious and gets very scared (if we didn’t have to make the trip, believe me, we wouldn’t).

    Will there ever be a way through security where the cat can stay inside the carrier? My flight would be within Europe.

  15. Diane – it is impossible to predict enforcement of airline regulations at the time of boarding, but we would recommend that you speak with the airline and fax them all the information that you have. Get assurances in writing that they will allow this so you can show it to the agent at the gate at the time of boarding.

  16. Urgent: I was approved to fly with my emotional support companion dog to South Africa in cabin temporarily for now. While booking my dog with the medical desk they said they are experiencing an issue because all pets need to be manifest cargo because of South Africa’s animal embargo. I have emailed the import and export unit of South Africa and as well as the agriculture department and was given an application to fill out and pay for to get a dispensation for a cabin letter from South Africa to allow my dog to fly in cabin with me from the U.S. to South Africa and back. The letter states he needs to be checked in as manifest cargo but will fly in cabin for the duration of the flight and as soon as we land in South Africa he will be taken from me and taken to the cargo section to be declared through customs.
    I have all the paper work, doctors letter stating he is my emotional support dog as well as import permit and veterinary documentation/passport. What is the likely hood I’ll be denied to have him travel with me in cabin because of the embargo policy with South Africa and all the documents and permission from South Africa export and import and agriculture department who signed the permit and cabin letter to give permission?
    Also he is a French bulldog and not allowed in cargo to begin with. Please I had to cancel a flight and change it to a new airline. They are going to confirm to make sure I won’t have issues because he is a support companion and not just a pet.

  17. Julia – pets traveling in the cabin will pass through security gates with their owners while their carriers are scanned. Pets traveling in cargo will be scanned in the cargo area. Thousands of pets travel every day, so the airlines have specific processes in place for live animals.

  18. I am leaving this coming Saturday to fly to Barbados with my daughter. What is the airport security rule traveling with pets? I understand with the is is threats word is circulating that bombs are being surgically put in y
    The pets. Or other explosives depending on the size of the pet? How are the airlines put
    Rote time
    no their passengers ?

  19. Lee – we are not aware of any airline that will allow rodents to fly in the cabin. They are chewing animals and would cause quite a bit of havoc if they got loose…

  20. Is anyone familiar with airlines that allow mice or rats on their airlines? Bonus but not required if they can remain in the cabin with me.

  21. Iva – we are not aware of any commercial airline that will allow 3 cages per passenger. Your birds must travel in an airline-compliant pet carrier that will fit under the seat in front of you. The requirements for importing birds to a given country vary as to the country you are importing them too. Many countries have become very strict with the continued concerns about Avian Influenza.

  22. Hello,
    I have 5 birds and a bunny I’m planning to leave USA next month and I’m very worry about how my pets and how I will transport them as I do have to change 2 planes.
    Can anyone recommend a airline company that allows about 3 cages per passenger in the cabin.

    And do I need a microchip for my birds?

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