Airline Pet Travel: Clearing Airport Checkpoint Security

It?s everyone?s favorite part of airline travel – the security checkpoint. The crowded lines, removing articles of clothing, and emptying your purse and pocket contents into a box are all reasons why these checkpoints can be a hassle. Now imagine having to do all these things while traveling with a pet. Overwhelming? It can be. With a little preparation and the proper equipment, your next experience with airport security will be a breeze. Here are some helpful tips next time you enter a security checkpoint with your pet.

Pack Light and dress accordingly. You will want to be able to minimize the amount of tasks you will have to perform to clear security. Packing a laptop in a briefcase and a pet in a carrier while dressed in sneakers will make your experience at airport security a difficult one. You will have to remove both the laptop from the briefcase and untie and remove your sneakers before even dealing with your pet. Leave the heavy jewelry and change at home or pack them in checked luggage.

Know your airline?s pet policies! Please be aware that all pet policies are unique to each airline. Knowing your airline?s pet policy can only help during the security process. Find a list of airline pet policies.

Your pet carrier must be airline compliant* and will be X-Rayed. During the security process, your pet?s carrier will be X-Rayed. This is completely normal. Put all of your dog?s accessories into a clear plastic bag inside of your carrier. This will help prevent delays and holdups while scanning your bag. Try to avoid carrying any liquids or gels for your pet. The same restrictions for lotions and gels that apply to you also apply to your pet. (3.4 ounce containers in a one quart plastic bag)

Your pet will be screened by the metal detector. After you place your bag into the X-Ray machine, you will then proceed into the metal detector with your pet in your arms. It is important to remember that your pet might be distracted or distressed by all the people, noise and commotion. We recommend keeping your pet leashed during the time it is out of the pet carrier. This way, if the pet succeeds to wriggle out of your grip, you will able to restrain them from running. Additionally, having a small treat in your pocket may help in getting your pet back into the carrier quickly.

Allow extra time to check in and clear airport security. Delta, Continental and American Airlines will not compensate you for missing a flight as a result of airport security holdups. US Airways will reschedule travelers who have been held up at security only for passengers that arrived more than 2 hours prior to flight time at no extra cost.

Using a little common sense as well as being organized will go a long way to make traveling with your pet safe and fun for you both.

*Airline compliant pet carriers must have a waterproof bottom, adequate ventilation, secure fasteners, and must fit in the space under the seat in front of you. Your pet must be able to stand up and turn around in the carrier.


Airline Pet Travel: Clearing Airport Checkpoint Security — 21 Comments

  1. Jessica – Bunnie’s post was from 2017 and the airlines are changing regulations all the time. Some will allow 2 kitties in 1 carrier if there is room for them to turn around. It is best to contact your airline for confirmation. We also have information on airline pet policies here: Susan

  2. In response to Bunnie Clark: you were able to put two cats in one single carrier?? The article says one per carrier per traveler…. which airline did you use? I have two cats that are small enough to fit in one carrier, but unsure if that’s allowed. Thanks for any insight.

  3. Pamela – likely not if the majority of the carrier will fit under the seat in front of you and you are on a domestic flight.

  4. Alaska airlines has specific measurements for the pet carrier..if it is soft carrier but slightly bigger will they keep me from getting through security or on plane? Traveling for thefirst time with my old cat..

  5. Mackumba – there are carriers that will allow your Yorkie Poo to stand up and turn around. The XL SturdiBag, for example, is 16″ tall and can “squish” down to allow your pup to stand up and turn around. You should contact your airline to see how much room you have under the seat in front of you because this carrier must be stowed horizontally. Be sure and reserve a window seat as there tends to be more room under the seat on window seats. You can see airline-compliant pet carriers here: It is impossible to predict how the agent will enforce your airline’s regulations, but they tend to be stricter on international flights.

  6. I have a 15 pound yorkie poo which I need to take on a plane from New York to Madrid. He is about 14 inches tall. He fits in his carrier, but is unable to stand up or turn around. Will they check if he can stand up and turn around at check in? Is that absolutely necessary? Thanks a lot.

  7. Where can I receive the form for emotional therapy dogs? I desperately need it, thanks

  8. Some great tips. In reference to Your pet will be screened by the metal detector. I traveled with two young cats, which they wanted me to take out of the carrier so they could x-ray the carrier. I told them I could not hold them and my purse and whatever else I had. They escorted me to a private screening room. I put my stuff down and held the two cats while they sent the carrier through the x-ray machine and then hand scanned the cats as well. I put the cats back in the carrier and continued on.

  9. Jose – Mr. Yamasaki is correct. If your pet transits through Japan (stays on the same airline in and out of Japan), your dog will not enter the country and does not need to conform to their regulations. That said, pets are required to enter the Philippines as air cargo which is why Mr. Yamaski is bringing this to your attention. We would need to research whether therapy dogs are exempted from this requirement.

  10. Ny question is if what they said to me in Narita and Japan Air Lines is correct? They said they will accept my Therapy Dog Shiba Inu 35lbs. in cabin from LA to Narita, but will have to travel via Cargo from Narita to Manila. I already bought all your Manila requirements Narita told me since I am not staying in Japan, that I don’t need anything is this true? According to their email to me below. From Airport Inspection Division as seen here: Oct 12 at 9:10 PM
    MAFF-AQS Narita 1st Baggage Inspection Division
    To: J.A.B.N.
    Dear Jose’ B. Narciso,
    If your dog won’t enter to Japan and only transit(just staying in lounge), you don’t need to do anything for animal quarantine in Japan.
    May be you have to fulfill the regulation for enter to Manila.
    We are not sure the regulation, so please ask it to government authority in Philippines.
    ?? ?? / Yuko YAMASAKI
    Animal Quarantine Service Narita Branch
    1st Baggage Inspection Division (1PTB)
    Tel: +81-476-32-6664 Fax: +81-476-30-3011
    Web site:

  11. Kristy – you have the requirements listed correctly (2 health certificates – Annex I and APHIS 7001). Your daughter will pick up the dogs at the cargo facility of the airline they will be flying. It will be located on airport grounds.

  12. I will be sending my daughter her 2 dogs to Milan, but I can’t find the information telling her where to pick them up at Milan Airport. Also the only thing I find they need is Microchip-Rabies Vaccination-Health Certificate USDA & travel within 2 days unaccompanied. Am I missing anything?

  13. Sally – you absolutely can request a private screening room at any airport. If the TSA official at the gate hesitates, demand to speak to their supervisor.

  14. If I remove my cat from the carrier at check in, she will undoubtedly dig her nails into me and escape. Can i request a private screening room?

  15. Your tips on airline pet travel is very realistic. These are the things that I do and I haven’t had a hitch ever since. The only exception is when you are traveling internationally where you get to facilitate some clearance and quarantine through respective government-operated offices. Do you have further tips on this?
    In most cases the requirements to enter another country vary by the country with the exception of most EU countries that have unifed rules. 90% of the time if your pet has been vaccinated for rabies, micro chipped with the ISO 15 digit microchip and is accompanied by the veterinary health certificate for that country you should have not problem entering. There are some counties such as the UK that also require a blood titer test and there are a fair number of countries that reauire an import permit. Your best pet is to visit this page which contains the complete instructions and forms for every country:

  16. To avoid hassles and unnecessary stress, it’s better to check the website of the Airline your planning to board with your pet. Airlines varies in their regulations regarding taking pets on a plane.

  17. Your airline pet tips are quite helpful and practical. When I was bringing a surprise puppy for my daughter, I wasn’t aware about the details of airlines concerning bringing pets. Good thing I went to the airport way ahead of the schedule time. An airline compliant pet carrier is crucial to smooth and without delay routine checking. Thanks for the post.
    In order to avoid problems when checking in a pet as checked baggage make sure your pet has an IATA compliant pet crate. Many of those sold in pet stores do not meet the standards.

  18. Followed your tips and I was able to get off the line fast and easy. Just forgot the leash part though. Good thing I always bring a treat with me. Looking forward to more of your posts!
    Thank you, I am glad that things went well for you and your pet.

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