TSA Warns Not to Send Your Pets Through the X-Ray at Airport Security

The agency just discovered a pet cat in a carry-on bag at a Norfolk Airport checkpoint.

Courtesy of Transportation Security Administration
Courtesy of Transportation Security Administration
Courtesy of Transportation Security Administration

We get it, travelling with a pet can be stressful, especially when you’re trying to get them through airport security without incident, but there are right ways and wrong ways to go about making the experience as seamless as possible.

One decidedly wrong way to go about it is to simply leave your pet in your carry-on bag to avoid having to take it out at the Transportation Security Administration’s checkpoint.

That’s exactly what happened last week at the Norfolk International Airport in Virginia, where a traveller left their pet cat inside their carry-on bag and sent it through an X-ray scan, according to a new tweet from TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. Hardly a one-off situation, a similar incident took place last November at JFK Airport.

According to a followup tweet from Farbstein, the cat is safe, and simply had to go through a proper screening with its owner after the cat was identified.

While some replies to the tweet pointed out that skittish pets-especially cats-might go on the lam after being let out of their carriers, the TSA pointed out in an Instagram reel on the incident that any travellers concerned about their pet going into “escape artist” mode can request alternative screening options, like getting scanned in a private room. In a December press release, the TSA outlined additional tips to help pet owners successfully navigate airport screening procedures. The agency states:

  • All pets must be brought to the checkpoint “in a hand-held travel carrier” and must be removed from their carrier just prior to the screening process beginning.
  • The empty travel carrier must go through the X-ray station. The pet cannot.
  • Pets should be carried through the screening process, if possible, or they can be walked through the process if they are on a leash.
  • Pet owners’ hands will be swabbed for explosive residue by a TSA officer.
  • Once the process is done, pets should be returned to their carriers away from the checkpoint.

The TSA also suggested familiarizing pets with their carriers in the days leading up to travel, and to be aware of the presence of working K9s and their handlers at checkpoints. If a working K9 is encountered at a checkpoint, pet owners should go to a different checkpoint.

Beyond security, pet owners should check with the airline they are flying with to ensure they are following all relevant pet travel restrictions as these vary from airline to airline.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.

Joe Erbentraut is the Editorial Director of News at Thrillist. Follow Joe on Twitter.


Mad Mex’s New Menu Item Is Inspired by a Popular Mexican Street Food

mad mex chicken al pastor

Mexican restaurant chain Mad Mex has dropped a new protein, and it’s one of the most popular street foods in Mexico.

Enter, Chicken Al Pastor. It’s traditionally made with pork and grilled on a spinning rotisserie with a pineapple sitting a top, but Mad Mex has put its own spin on it, serving chicken bathed in an Al Pastor marinade with a touch of juicy pineapple.

You can order the protein-packed filling in your favourite burrito, bowl, quesadilla, nachos, or in a taco.

As always, these things are here for a good time, not a long time. Pop into your local Mad Mex restaurant, order delivery or through the Mad Mex app today.

Get the latest from Thrillist Australia delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe here.


Our Best Stories, Delivered Daily
The best decision you'll make all day.