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

418 comments to Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet

  • Hi Lauren – in order to take your pet to England from the US, you need to microchip your pet with a 15 digit ISO microchip, then vaccinate them for rabies (in that order, but can be done in the same vet visit.) The vaccination must be done after the microchip implantation and at least 21 days prior to entering England. If your dog already has a 15 digit microchip, then just be sure your dog was vaccinated for rabies at least once AFTER the chip was implanted. Within 10 days of travel, a USDA accredited vet will complete an Annex II form for England which is sent to your State USDA office for endorsement. Your pup will also need a tapeworm treatment between one and five days of travel. You can find details and links to instructions and all forms required for taking a pet to the UK here:

    Your pet will need to travel as manifest cargo. Contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route (Lufthansa, British Airways, Finnair, American fly directly) for costs and requirements. Keep in mind that an agent will be required to transport your pet from the plane to the Animal Reception Center where you will pick it up. The airlines will pick one for you or you can find an agent yourself. Should you decide to do so, check and search for a pet transporter that serves LHR if you need an agent.

    Should you decide not to send your pet as cargo, then you must travel to Paris and arrange for a car through the Chunnel or to Netherlands for the ferry. Let me know if you need additional details.

  • lauren

    Where should I start as far as preparing to take my small dog with me when I travel to England from Chicago this summer?

  • Shawna – Hawaii is a rabies-free state and has very strict requirements. You need to prepare 7 months ahead of time otherwise your pet will go into quarantine. You can find all the requirements here:

  • Shawna

    I am flying in 11 to Hawaii form California and I am bring my small dog with me .I am concerned about customs and what I need to bring with me to make a smooth trip. She has had all her shots but I never sent in her rabies certificate, will this be a issue ? Do I need to bring something from my vet ?

  • Hi Brett – your puppy will need to be close to 4 months old before you return to the UK. At three months, your puppy is microchipped, then vaccinated for rabies (in that order, but the same vet visit is fine.) then there is a 21 day wait before you can enter the UK. Your pup will need an Annex II form completed by a USDA accredited vet and endorsed by the state USDA office within 10 days of travel and a tapeworm test between one and five days of travel. You can find details and links to instructions and forms here:

  • brett

    Is it possible to fly from England to Chicago and bring back a puppy? The reason I ask is because I would like an American foxhound and can’t find any over here.

    If it’s possible what would I need to do

    Thanks for any help

  • Hi Katharine – we have a great, all natural calmer for cats in our store ( Most airlines do not recommend sedation, especially when traveling in the hold, because it affects an animal’s breathing. If your cat is accustomed to being in her carrier, you have half the battle won. On a plane, once you are airborne, you can pull her out between your legs and comfort her “through” her carrier. This may be more attention than you can offer her in a car, especially if you are driving.

    As for layovers, look for quiet spots in the terminal and relax together. Stay away from the crowds. Will she lick your finger if you have some water on it? Hydration is important when flying. We don’t recommend feeding her until you get to your destination. Four hours will “fly” by. Keeping your cat calm and reassured that you are with her will make a difference.

  • Katharine

    Hello ..I am traveling by plane from Mexico to the US with a 13 yr old cat, who has never flown. She will be in the cabin with me. I am wondering about sedation, and/or BACH’s Rescue Remedy for calming, what should i use? Or should I give her anything? I will have 4 hours between flights and wonder how to deal with the cat during this time. She has traveled long distances in a car and been very noisy the first hour and then quiet. She refused water/food during the travel time so i am not concerned about those things.
    Any other tips would be welcome…thanks Katharine

  • Hi Juliette – EasyJet does not transport live animals either in the cabin or the cargo hold. Try contacting Air France. Your pet will need to travel as checked baggage in the hold, but they have lots of direct flights between LHR and CDG and their routes are much shorter than other airlines with a transit.
    Hope this helps. Susan

  • Juliette

    I am bringing my hamster to france for the summer holidays. I live in london and was wondering if easyjet would let my hamster travel in a carrier on my knees? Would I need any papers or a passport like dogs require?Thank you!

  • Ina – it depends on your cat and whether it will behave in the cabin. It is better to carry them in the cabin if you can, but not if it will howl the entire trip. As to watering your cat, it depends on the length of your layover and whether you are just changing airplanes or you are changing airlines. Airline personnel should check to make sure there is hydration, but they don’t always do it. If you are changing airlines, you will need to claim your pet, clear customs and recheck your pet. This is not the best way to travel because you will need to conform to the requirements of the layover country.

  • Ina

    Hello, please tell me, if i choose the carrier box to figurate as a luggage (with the cat inside too) and if i have to change planes before getting to the final destination, will they assure water if needed? Can i trust this option or should i go for the one with the pet in the cabin with me?

  • Hi Jean – no commercial airline will allow a pet to travel on your lap, however, there are several airlines which serve your route that will permit pets to travel in the cabin in an approved pet carrier under the seat in front of you. Air Berlin flies direct between your two cities. Other airlines that fly the route with one stop are Vueling, Air Europa, and Iberia Airlines. Check with the reservations department of these airlines to verify that space is available.

  • jean


    Iwish to travel from Malaga to Palma Majorca with my small dog about 6.3kg on my lap which airline do I use and how do I book.

    Many thanks


  • Mrs. Gibson – we know of no commercial airline that will permit any animals other than service animals to travel to the UK in the cabin. You may be better to travel to the UK through the Chunnel.

  • Mrs Valerie Gibson

    which airlines permit small Yorkshire terriers in bound and out bound From UK to France and back

  • Lady

    Hi Susan,

    Would you know where I can look to find out if Korea requires a transit permit? what would happen if there would be flight delays during transit , worse case scenario if they had to re schedule the flight for some reason, would I be given special consideration since it is not my fault that I was not able to prepare documentation for my dog to enter korea since it was not what we planned. Can my dog be quarantined because of delays and flight schedules which is beyond travelers control?

    Thank you

  • Rhonda – I am not sure I have enough information to answer your question. The dogs are in Belgium. Where are you located? Also, is the person you are buying from a legitimate breeder? There are many scams on the internet that involve pets.

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