TSA says traveling is for the dogs... and cats

TSA personnel demonstrate how to easily get small pets through airport security

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - With Jacksonville ranking high in pet ownership, it makes sense to know how to travel with your small animals. Traveling through the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) security checkpoint with your pet can be easy, if you know what to expect.

TSA personnel offered a demonstration at Jacksonville International Airport (JAX) on Thursday on how officers screen small pets. A mini-Pomeranian and her human participated in the demonstration.

TSA advised pet owners to check with their airline before bringing a pet to the airport. Airlines do charge a fee and require reservations, but most will allow small dogs and cats in the cabin of a plane when traveling in hand-held carriers and accompanied by their humans.

If a pet is going to travel in the cabin of an airplane with its human, TSA must screen it via the security checkpoint. Below is what pets and humans can expect:

  • All pets should be brought to the security checkpoint in a hand-held travel carrier.  Remove the pet from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process.
  • Do not put the pet into the x-ray tunnel, which is used to screen a passenger's personal property and carry-on luggage. Place the empty travel carrier on the belt to be x-rayed.
  • The pet should be carried during the screening process; alternately, a pet can walk through the process if the owner has the pet on a leash. 
  • A TSA officer will give the pet owner's hands an explosive trace detection swab to ensure there is no explosive residue on the hands.
  • Once the screening process is completed, owners should return the pet to the travel carrier at the re-composure area, away from the security checkpoint for the safety of the pet as well as other passengers.


Other helpful travel tips to make your trip through security as easy as possible include:

  • Acclimate the pet to the process of traveling by familiarizing it with the travel carrier in the days leading up to the trip.  This will help ensure it is more relaxed as it travels through the security process and the airport.
  • Avoid bringing pets to an area of the airport where a working K9 is operating with its handler. Areas where it is common to see a working K9 may include a security checkpoint or in the airport concourse.  Some airports do not allow you to walk your dog on a leash inside the building at all.
  • Know the temperament of your pet and ensure that you can maintain control of it in a busy and potentially crowded environment at the airport.
  • Prior to going through security, consider visiting JAX's "pet relief" area outside the southside baggage claim area.
  • Pet travel restrictions vary by airline, so please check with your air carrier before coming to the airport. You will need to clear the pet's trip with the airline ahead of time, pay a fee to the airline and have a current health certificate.


For information on traveling with service animals or for other special circumstances, please visit www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/service-animals or reach out to the TSA Contact Center by calling 866-289-9673 or by emailing TSA-ContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov

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