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


Comments

Pet Travel: How to Clear Airport Security with a Pet — 783 Comments

  1. Sophie – if your dog is flying as checked baggage, you will pick it up from baggage claim and proceed to customs. If flying as air cargo, you will need to claim it at your airline’s cargo facility. There should be no issues when entering from Taiwan. Don’t forget a rabies certificate and health certificate with proof of screwworm inspection by your veterinarian.
    Susan

  2. How does customs work with your dog once getting into the US from another country (Taiwan)?

  3. Randy – if you leave the secure area of the terminal, even to take your dog for a walk, you will clear customs and enter Korea. Your dog will need to conform to regulations as listed here: http://www.pettravel.com/immigration/korea.cfm. This could also affect the regulations for your destination country if it classifies countries in terms of rabies like the EU does as Korea is classified as a high-rabies country.
    Jason

  4. Will be travelling from the Philippines to Los Angeles with my dog in the passenger cabin, with layover of 15 hrs at Incheon Airport. Since it’s a long layover, Am I considered entering South Korea? Does my pet have to comply with the animal import requirements, or clear customs? I intend to stay in the airport during the duration. I would appreciate some guidance. I cannot find any helpful info from Asiana Air.

  5. I am traveling on air Canada from toronto to kelowna BC, direct 4 and half hour flight.
    First time with my 5 year old Pom chi in a carrier with me. He is a little nervous and skittish to begin with… should I go
    To vet and get a sedative? Just worried it might effect him negatively.
    Also, While waiting before flight take off, can I let him out and of carrier? Thank you

  6. Ash – if you are flying internationally, many airlines weigh animals at check in. Enforcement is very difficult to predict. Contact your airline to be sure.
    Jason

  7. My dog is right on the borderline of the weight limit. The max is 18 and he is 20lbs. Do they weigh your dog in the carrier when you get to the check in desk?

  8. Susan – arrive at TSA security early and request a room. You can take your cat out of the carrier in the room and officers will take the carrier to x-ray. You put your cat back in the carrier and have an officer hold it while you walk through the scanner. If the first person that you request the room from refuses you, ask to speak to a supervisor.
    Jason

  9. We have been travelling with an onboard (in cabin) 18-year old cat for many years between Canada and Phoenix, USA with no problems. But now I find I must travel with her alone, and I’ve had both hip and knee replacements so I always have to go through the scanner. (Hubby used to carry her in his arms with no problem, but she squirms when I hold her.). What am I going to encounter with TSA when I try to take her through security, and find I can’t take her through the scanner because I set it off? I know she has to come out of her carrier, but how can I take her through the scanner?

  10. I have 3 Chow Chows. Will they be allowed to travel with me in the Cabin when flying from South Africa to the Netherlands? Which airline would you suggest I use?
    They are extremely fond of each other and unsepperable. Will there be place in the cabin for a container big eneugh for all 3 of them?

  11. Lily – you can carry several dogs or cats in the same carrier; however, there must be sufficient room for them and their weight, including the carrier, does not exceed 17 pounds. With 2 cats, we would certainly recommend requesting a room at the security check point. If you can’t get a hold of them through their customer service number, try their accessibility number (800-994-0704) and ask if there is another number you can call. You can also contact them on Facebook or (better yet) Twitter.
    Susan

  12. I will be traveling one way from LA to Madrid, I will be by myself and I have 2 cats with me, my question is would they allow me to keep both of them in cabin with me? I would rather keep there near me especially since one of them has diabetes (another issue is would I be able to bring his insulin needle with me, it’s such a tiny needle but I’m sure airlines are still going to be strict on that), than put them in the cargo hold. I have been trying to call Iberia customer service but I cannot get hold of them. Could anyone tell me what are my options? Could I bring both of them with me, would I need 2 carriers (got the airline approved that extend to both side) or just put both in one?
    Then going through TSA I will surely have to take out 1 cat at a time or would that be better to request a room?
    Also if someone has an alternate number to call Iberia that would help a lot, I would like to know and be prepared beforehand, thank you!!

  13. Alexis – when you arrive at the airport, you will check your luggage and pay for your cat’s ticket at the check-in counter (if you have not already paid). When you are approaching the TSA security point, there will be someone checking tickets and inquire who you should speak to for a room. It is hard to estimate how far in advance you should arrive because it depends on how busy your terminal is when you arrive, but plan on an extra hour just in case.
    Susan

  14. Hi there. I will be traveling with my cat in september from LAX to Madrid, Spain. I have a one way ticket and have done my research, but I am nervous for taking her through security.

    Where do I ask for a private room? Before the metal detectors, or before going into the security line?

    How early should I get to the airport? I will be traveling alone and with a lot of belongings since I will be moving to Spain.

  15. Dale – I think you may find that KLM will require an agent to book your pet’s transport out of LHR, but you can certainly ask. If that does not work out, Turkish Airways may be another option.
    Susan

  16. Hi -Can I fly with a chihuahua in the cabin from London to Kilimanjaro Airport, Tanzania . I’m thinking about using KLM – any advice would be great

  17. Roberta – we must mention that, unless permission for home quarantine has been granted from the Center for Disease Control, your puppy must be vaccinated for rabies no sooner than 3 months of age and wait for 30 days before entering the United States. You can inquire at cdcanimalimports@cdc.gov.

    As for your question, if you are concerned about the safety of your puppy when at security, you can request a room in which you can remove your puppy from its carrier without being in the crowds typically found at the security checkpoint. If the agent in charge will not permit this, ask to speak to their supervisor.

    Susan

  18. My 26-year-old granddaughter and I will fly Southwest from Oakland to Ontario CA on 8/5, where a schnoodle breeder will meet us inside the airport at the information desk and hand me the 3-to-4-pound, 8-week-old puppy I have purchased from her. I have already paid the puppy’s airfare and have a pet carrier for her but am concerned about taking her through Security. I can’t put her on the floor because she hasn’t had her vaccinations yet and I don’t know if I will be allowed to hold her securely enough not to risk dropping her. Can anyone suggest how I can get my new puppy safely through Security?

  19. Raff – your cat will need to be removed from its carrier so the carrier can pass through the x-ray machine. You can request a room away from the crowds to do this in Birmingham. If the security person does not grant permission, ask to speak to a supervisor. Just allow extra time for this.

    If you are flying in and out of Frankfurt on Lufthansa, you and your kitty will stay in the secure area of the terminal and not clear customs until your board your next flight. No need to clear security.
    Susan

  20. Can someone advise on whether a cat definitely has to come out of the pet carrier? I am travelling from Birmingham International (UK) to Milan (Italy) with Lufthansa, which means I have a 55 minutes stop over in Frankfurt. My cat is an extremely nervous rescue cat (he is fine in his pet carrier, but freaks out if he is forced out of the carrier, as the vet , and his wound, can testify). Is there a way the cat can stay in his pet carrier and would we have to go through security again in Frankfurt even though we booked it as one ticket from Birmingham to Milan? Thank you!

  21. They will not offer the room. Unfortunately, oftentimes, you need to demand it. Every airport should be able to accommodate. In your case, the carrier should have been returned to you before the swab.
    Jason

  22. If hand swab is required there should be someone there to perform this. I had to stand holding my cat in my arms waiting for someone to come and swab my hands. A room was not offered to me. This happened at RSW in FT. Myers Fl.

  23. Nina- Air Canada, Swiss Air and Lufthansa all say they will fly pets in the cabin out of the U.K. There may be others. No new laws that we are aware of.
    Jason

  24. Can i travel from UK to norway with my puppy in tje cabin? If yes witch Airlines? Or are there new laws?

  25. Dawn – most all countries that require quarantine will arrange for supervised home quarantine; however, you should give them prior notice that you are entering the country with a service animal.
    Phil

  26. If the pet is a support dog, while traveling oversees do they still need to be quarantined?

  27. Norma – ask for a room when you are clearing TSA. You can take her out in the room and TSA officials will X-ray your cat’s carrier. Bring a towel with you and wrap her up in it (not the head). Easier to get her into the carrier that way.
    Susan

  28. My cat is a rescue cat and very nervous and high strung. Getting her out
    Of the carrier gives me nightmares. She can clear those walls easily. I am 80 years old and would not be able to chase after her.

  29. Im thankful for those airlines allowing pets to stay to the cabin. Its hard for the pet to stay at the cargo because of noise the they encounter being an animal lover and no capability to get pregnant i treat my pets as my child also. Its to late for me to know that there are airlines allow pet to stay in the cabin. 2 weeks ago i export my pet to canada but they place it in the cargo,when the pet get in the cargo airlind in canada my pets looks so weak,stressed and his jolly behavior disappear until now his not turning back to his natural behavior that why im so sad. We already check to his vet but nothing changes until now..i know its my fault because i dont have idea that pet is allow to stay to cabin this is lesson for me now. I would like to give thanks to those airlines allowing pets to stay to their cabin. GODBLESS YOUR AIRLINE ALWAYS FOR BEING UNDERSTAND THAT PETS HAS A LIFE AND THERE ARE IMPORTANT ALSO.

  30. Im amazed that other airlines allowing the dog to stay also in the cabin. Im not aware before that they are allow,im sad because its to late for me to know that pets can be allow to travel within the section of the passengers too. My 1 pet maltese breed l travel thru cargo last 2 weeks ago and now ill see his condition is not that good since he place at cargo of the plane until now everytime i see his condition his not good. I see him like he was so stress and unhappy. Im so worried about him. We already go to his vet bit until now no changes happen. It lesson learn for me of what happen to my dearly pet. Since its hard for me to have baby and hard for me to get pregnant. I treat those pets like my baby. Im very thankful for those airlines who allow to stay the pets in the cabin. GODBLESS ALWAYS TO YOUR AIRLINES for being considerable..

  31. Wow, reading these comments made me laugh. I got TSA covered, airline is good, Hotel is awesome, dog has her own suitcase and snacks for her are in my carryon (which is small and mostly filled with stuff for her. . .lol). It’s a direct flight so no issues there. My airline and airport are both pet friendly so good there. However, I didn’t worry this much when traveling with my son as a baby. I am just so nervous. I am even taking her to the vet before travel to make sure she is healthy enough to travel (p.s., she is a very healthy dog. . .it’s totally a mommy thing). We are traveling from Las Vegas to Orlando. Here in Vegas we do not have to worry about fleas so I will have her treated for fleas and ticks before we leave as Orlando is a hotbed of these creatures. Is it funny that my worry is just getting through TSA and coming home without fleas?. . .just Saying.

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