How To Make Going Through The TSA Security Line With Your Pet Easier

If you want to bring your pet with you on an airplane, rest assured, it's pretty easy to do. And since they're coming with you, they're going through all of the airport procedures you are, including a TSA security stop. If your pet is able to fly with you in the cabin of the plane, they're already small enough to carry and manage, so that's a plus. Nevertheless, travel anxiety is a real thing for animals. Since the whole experience is going to be out of the ordinary for your pet, it's worth your while to prepare as much as you can so that you and your pet aren't surprised. 

There are steps you can take to prepare your pet for their flight, and several other things that will make vacationing with your pet easier. Get them comfortable and familiar with their carrier. As far as airport security goes, it's advisable to know what steps you'll be facing before your trip so that you and your animal are as prepared as possible. After all, if you're calm, your pet will likely feel a little more at ease too.

Keep your pet in a carrier for everything but the screening

When traveling in airports, a good rule of thumb is that pets should always remain in their carriers. When purchasing a pet carrier ahead of time, ensure that the one you buy is airline approved, meaning that it aligns with all of the size parameters and animal safety requirements. Your pet should be comfortable in the carrier, and the carrier itself needs to safely fit under the seat. Most airports prefer or require that pets remain in these carriers at all times. The exception, of course, is a service animal, who is expected and required to be accessible. The other exception is when your pet is using the pet relief area. 

A pet should not come out of the carrier until just before the screening process. Depending on your pet's level of nervousness, it's best to remove them from the carrier at the last minute, after you've already loaded your carry-on bag for screening. Take your pet out and hold them in your arms, placing their empty carrying bag in a bin so that the bag can be X-rayed. Your pet should never go through the X-ray machine. You can also have your pet on a leash; just wait for directions from a TSA agent. As you walk through the metal detector with your pet, you will have your hands swabbed to detect traces of explosives.

Keep your pet away from airport security dogs

While your pet might be about to embark on the most lavish vacation of their life, the airport is full of working dogs. Security dogs work to sniff out drugs and explosives, as well as firearms and hidden organic goods, like certain plants and perishables that aren't permitted. Dogs, and their incredible sense of smell, offer a world of protection and service for travelers. As the TSA explains in a press release about going through security with pets at LaGuardia Airport, "Be on the lookout for 'working' canines and handlers at the airport. ... If you encounter a working canine, please consider shifting to an alternate checkpoint so that there is no interference with a government working dog's tasks."

Once you've passed through security, place your pet back in the carrying case as quickly as possible. This is particularly imperative if you know that your pet is anxious around other animals. If your pet is particularly nervous about coming out of the carrier, you may actually request a private screening. If your pet struggles with anxiety, it can be an especially good idea to contact your vet prior to your travel day to get some travel anxiety medication. If your pet is relaxed, it makes the whole day easier for you.