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 — 748 Comments

  1. I’m traveling from Geneva, Switzerland to Tampa, Florida with my 3 yr old, 7 kilo, adorable bichon havanese. He already has a passport and rabies vaccination. I’ll be there for one month. Can you tell me if I take him with me in the cabin and how much of a hassle it will be?

  2. Hello,
    I am going to travel with my 8 year old chihuahua from Oregon to California. Do I need to have any documentation when flying with her in cabin. And do I need to bring her license information.

  3. Audrey – you will not be able to remove your pup from its carrier until you are out of the airport. Be sure to have its leash handy.

  4. Audrey – it depends on the personality of your pup how it will handle its first plane ride. Line you carrier with extra pet pads. Reserve a window seat so she will be away from the traffic in the aisle. Bring tiny treats in case of restlessness.

  5. im going to be traveling with a 9 week old pup. what can i do about landing? will thier ears hurt? also am i allowed to take my pup out of the kennel after the flight?

    please help!!!!!

  6. MVU – try United or Delta if they fly your route. Know that there are strict regulations if you are flying out of the United States with your bird.

  7. I was in San Diego visiting a friend and He gave me his pet bird. It’s the size of a cardinal. I’m wondering if this bird is allowed on as a carry on. Do I need anything paper work to prove it’s from the US?


  8. Jelly – it really depends on the country that you are traveling to whether an import fee will be charged. As you are traveling with your dog as a personal pet, if one is charged, it is pretty minimal generally, unless you are going to a country that requires quarantine.

  9. I’ll be traveling with my shihtzu for the first time and I’m wondering if my dog would be charged for any additional custom charges at the airport? (Other than the “airline ticket” for her)

  10. Rodiane – Lufthansa does permit small dogs and cats in the cabin except on flights out of the UK. Also, the route should not be too long. Have you checked with them to make sure that your cat will be allowed in the cabin on your specific route?

  11. Hi I’m traveling for the first time with my small Persian cat from Europe to USA. I’m sticking to Lufthansa airline throughout with clear pet regulations. I got iata approved pet crate, cat is microchipped, with passport and vaccined. He will have the rabies vaccine prior to the appropriate travel time. I hope that they allow him to travel by my side. I don’t wish him to go down to the cabin hold. Makes me very nervous!

  12. Elia – according to import regulations imposed by the United Arab Emirates, your dog must arrive in the UAE as air cargo at an approved entry points: Abu Dhabi airport, El Bateen, RAK airport, Dubai airport, Al Ain Airport, Sharjah, Fujairah and Ajman International Airports. Pets cannot enter the UAE by road. The UAE has been strengthening their regulations over the past year. Sorry we cannot give you encouraging news.

  13. Hi, my dog is 5 YEARS OLD, EU passport, rabies & blood test are all ok, she is 1.03klg & she had travelled several times with me (inside the cabin). My dog needs to travel with me to UAE (DUBAI). I am planning to drive her either from Doha or Oman…need to know wether you can travel with your dog inside the cabin or its like UAE rules that she needs to travel via cargo? Please help!!!!!!!!!

  14. Judy – your puppy should be fine flying in the cabin with you in an airline compliant pet carrier. Better than in the cargo hold. There are countries that will not allow in-cabin travel, however.

  15. Tarum – your pet (dog or cat) will need to abide by the regulations shown here to enter the UAE: Your pet must enter the UAE as air cargo so you will need to contact the cargo department of an airline that flies the entire route. Air India and Etihad do not offer air cargo services for animals. Try Jet Airways as they also fly the route non-stop.

  16. I’ll be moving to Ireland God willing but I want to take my cat because I have PTSD an anxiety what are the requirements to having my cat flying with me on cabin?

  17. Bill – you can find requirements to import a dog to Poland here with links to further instructions and forms if you need them: The need for the titer test depends on what country your son’s dog is entering Poland from. Know that your son’s dog is a snub-nosed breed and some airlines will not carry it in the hold.


  19. Hi, I want to ask if I can send an unaccompanied pet through any airline from Delhi (India) to Abu Dhabi (UAE). What all procedures I need to follow and what all documents do I need to arrange for? Please help. Matter is urgent.


  20. Hello Amber – you can travel domestically with your puppy in Mexico. Ask your airline what their pet policies are. As for entering the United States, the puppy must have proof of rabies vaccination no sooner than 3 months of age and at least 30 days before entering the country. You should also have a veterinarian in Mexico do a health certificate as you will need it to return to Mexico.

  21. Hi Im currently in mexico i will be traveling sunday to another state in mexico. I am a US citizen i bought a 4 months old pup here in mexico . Can I travel as checked baggage with it to and from within mexico? and also can I enter the US. With the pup. If its origin is mexico.

  22. Hi Taylor – Canada is super pet-friendly. Your pup will need proof of current rabies vaccination to enter the country. Not sure of your route or your puppy’s breed to address whether you are asking whether it would be possible to fly in the cabin with him. Where are you traveling to Canada from? (city/country)

  23. Hello I am going To be moving to Hamilton mid this year and am taking my 8 month puppy with me and would like to have him with me is there a way of making that happen

  24. Beaula – although South African regulations do not specifically state that live animals must enter as air cargo, we find that the airlines’ pet policy for flights to SA do. You can check with some that fly the route and inquire about checked baggage is offered. (Kenya and Ethiopian Airlines fly the route from Bangkok to Johannesburg.) We are not aware of an airline that offers checked baggage service into SA, but there may be one!

  25. Hi there. Wondering if you can help me with info. We’re looking at going home to South Africa (from Thailand)for 2 months and would like to take our boy (Pomeranion dog) with us. We brought him to Thailand with us from South Africa last year. We’re looking at taking him to SA and bringing him back as access baggage. When we imported him last year we were charged B8500 import fees (actually felt like a bribe). So access bagage seems like the option we would like to take since no bribe fees would be nessasery. Will he be ok (emotional) flying so far back and forth in 2 months and do you have good advice on the access bagage idea? What flight service to use?

  26. Robin – as you are flying on a domestic flight, your pup will not need a health certificate unless your airline requires it.

  27. I’m picking up my new 8 week old puppy, and flying him in cabin with me from Washington to Massachusetts. The airlines does not require a health certificate. I reside right over the state line in NH. Will I have any problems bringing my puppy into the state with no health certificate. He will be seeing my vet once we get home. Does MA require anything from me to get him into the state or can I just deplane? Thank you

  28. Rachel – if our cat is traveling in the cabin, arrive at the airport very early and request a separate room from the TSA agent. If they deny your request, ask to speak with a supervisor. Every airport has accommodations for a room where people can go if there is any chance of an incident with their pet. You will remove your kitty from the carrier in the room. They will take the carrier and x-ray it and return it to you.

  29. Hello! I am due to travel for the first time with my cat in 2 days. I am very nervous as she is my mental stability in life. I have reserved her place on the plane, and have her certificate from the vet. Everything seems to be in order but I am still so scared they are going to turn us away!!! She is very calm and well mannered with me, but she will not tolerate anyone else trying to touch her. Her kennel is the appropriate size for the aircraft, but it is not quite tall enough for her to stand. As my flight is only about an hour and a half, I’m not concerned about that, she loves her kennel and sleeps in it for fun. I am concerned though that they will deny her boarding rights because of it. I hear that Delta is more lenient with these processes, which is the airline i’m flying with. TSA is usually very pushy and tries to speed people along, will they be rude to me if it takes me some time to get her out of her carrier? SO NERVOUS

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

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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!!!

  35. 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.

  36. 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.

  37. 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.

  38. 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:

  39. 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?

  40. 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.

  41. 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?.

  42. 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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