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.”

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 — 815 Comments

  1. Ruth – get to security with extra time before your departure. Ask the agent for a room where you can remove your kitty while the agent takes the backpack back to security for x-ray. If the agent does not cooperate, ask to speak to a supervisor. All airports have these types of rooms they can provide for screening. Better than a live animal running around the terminal.

  2. Hi,

    I move with my cat to Germany. the plan is to move from London Heathrow to Berlin Tegel with Lufthansa. stopover is in Munich or Frankfurt. I am very afraid of letting her out at security. I have kind of a small backpack I could take with me that is made for cats also. Do you think they will allow that if I scan the backpack first – then put the cat in there, then scan the carrier, then put the cat back? I have never flown with an animal so would appreciate any help I could get

  3. Raj – India requires that all pets enter the country either as checked baggage or cargo. Pets cannot enter in the cabin.

  4. Hattie – the need for a health certificate is based on your airline’s pet policies and the class of service your dog is traveling under. If it is traveling unaccompanied, then a vet check will be required within 10 days of flying. Other airlines require vet checks for pets flying as accompanied checked baggage. Few do for in-cab pets, but there are those that do. You can check your airline’s pet policy here:

  5. Can i carry a pair of rabbits wid me in airplane from bangladesh to kolkata nd from kolkata to india as iam an indian citizen..and are there any taxes i hve to pay…

  6. Elsie – we cannot answer your question as we do not know what country your Shih Tzu is traveling from and what country it is traveling to.

  7. Helena – arrive at the security checkpoint early. Tell the TSA employee that you will need a room to take your cat out of the carrier. If they do not accommodate you, ask to speak to a supervisor. Every airport should be able to accommodate you. They do not want a cat running through the terminal.

  8. Hi, thank you for the helpful article! Quick question: how/where/when can I request a room for TSA? One of my cats in very anxious and tends to scratch and fight if he has to be placed in his carrier. I am moving cross country and am worried about this! Being able to have a room would put my mind at ease. Thanks!

  9. Karyn – small amounts of dog food in sealed containers may be accepted. You may want to contact the Border Inspection Post at the airport in which you are entering. We do not see Nice listed as an approved BIP.

  10. Please tell me if I can bring my dogs dry food through security. He is in cabin with us, Chicago-Munich-Nice. Thank you!

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