In a recent advisory, the US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has cautioned passengers against subjecting their pets to X-ray scanners at airports. The TSA’s move follows a spate of incidents where animals, ranging from dogs and cats to even a snake, were mistakenly placed through airport security X-ray machines.
Key in the screening of pets is to know that they should never be screened through a checkpoint X-ray unit.US Transportation Security Administration
The TSA’s warning specifically pertains to the handling of pets during the airport security screening process. According to the TSA, passengers should not attempt to X-ray the carrier with the pet still inside. Instead, pets should be removed from their carriers when arriving at security checkpoints. Empty animal carriers must undergo security screening alongside standard luggage and pets should either be walked through the security check or carried by their owners.
“Pets often travel with their humans and are thought of like family members, which is why it’s important that if a passenger is traveling with their pet to become familiar with the security procedures for pets and how to go through the checkpoint security screening process together quickly and easily,” the TSA stated.
For passengers with wary pets who may become distressed when released from their kennels, the TSA offers assistance where passengers have the option to request a private screening room where the screening process can be conducted without the risk of the pet escaping.
The reminder comes on the heels of several incidents involving animals and airport security equipment. In 2022, a dachshund-Chihuahua mix was mistakenly sent through an airport X-ray machine while zipped inside a passenger’s backpack. Fortunately, the dog emerged unharmed, albeit slightly startled. Two weeks prior, a cat was discovered concealed in a suitcase at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport.
The TSA also emphasized the need for travelers to recognize the potential variations in pet travel regulations among different airports and airlines. Notably, pet travel restrictions can vary between airports and airlines, so passengers are urged to familiarize themselves with the specific policies of their chosen airline and the airport they are departing from. Airlines may have additional rules and requirements for traveling with pets, so it is advisable to consult the airline’s website before booking a flight in the company of your pet.
Furthermore, as regulations regarding service animals evolve, passengers with service animals should check with their chosen airline regarding specific policies, as some airlines, such as Delta, United Airlines and Frontier, have tightened their regulations on flying with service animals. In 2022, in Tampa, Florida, a women was prohibited to catch her flight after her pet, a four-foot boa constrictor, was found in her luggage, with the women attesting it was her “emotional support” snake.