The US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has taken the step of reminding people after “too many” incidents of creatures being put through security screening equipment.
Pets are required to pass through airport security metal detectors but rather than fed through a conveyor belt with bags, they should be removed from carriers and taken through (either walked or in the arms of the passenger).
“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,” said the TSA.
“Key in the screening of pets is to know that they should never be screened through a checkpoint X-ray unit.”
Empty animal carriers must pass through security like any other piece of luggage, and the TSA stressed that travellers should be aware that pet travel restrictions can vary between airports and airlines.
In late 2022, a dog was sent through an airport X-ray machine after being zipped inside a passenger’s backpack. The small dog, a dachshund-Chihuahua mix, was “a little skittish” when it came out of the machine but otherwise unharmed, according to a TSA spokesperson.
The incident happened two weeks after a cat was discovered inside and removed from a suitcase at New York’s John F Kennedy International Airport.
A dog was accidentally sent through the X-ray @MSN_Airport this week. When traveling with any animal, notify your airline & know their rules. At the checkpoint, remove your pet from the bag and send all items, including the empty carrier, to be screened in the machine. (1/2) pic.twitter.com/JLOStCDsir
— TSA_GreatLakes (@TSA_GreatLakes) December 6, 2022
Meanwhile, a woman in Tampa, Florida, was barred from flying after she claimed a four-foot boa constrictor – who she called Bartholemew – found in her luggage was an “emotional support” snake.
In recent years, several US airlines have tightened up the rules on “emotional support animals”, used by some passengers for psychiatric or anxiety reasons.
In 2018 a passenger was removed from a Frontier Airlines flight when they tried to bring an “emotional support squirrel” onboard.