Hey my pals. Recently, my friends at Nutrish asked me about TSA security and airline pet travel. I get these questions all the time so I thought you might be interested in learning the ins and outs of pet airline travel as well.
As I am sure you are aware, I travel all over the country attending pet expos and events … that means I fly all the time. I love to travel with my rents. I had Mom count up my trips and I have flown over sixty times. I guess you can say I’m a dog travel expert! Here are some are some tricks of the trade to get through security quickly with us pets.
Before you get to the TSA screening area:
- The less metal on us pups the better. We go through a metal detector just like you humans so we don’t want to set them off. To help with this, Mom switches out my nice collar (that has metal decorations) and a GPS tracker with a plain cloth collar that only has a very small metal buckle. There are also metal-free collars you can purchase online especially for TSA security.
- Pups don’t wear clothes in the airport. You know I’m a styling dog, but this is one time I don’t want my newest polo to get extra attention. A dog wearing a shirt means the TSA agents can’t easily do a visual assessment to make sure I don’t have anything on me I shouldn’t. If they feel they need to see under my clothes, that means a pat down and an extra security check for my humans and me.
- Train us well. Us pups can’t stay in our carrier when going through security, so we need to feel comfortable getting in and out of it with strange people around. I recommend using some treats to start training your dog to be comfortable with their carrier. They go into the carrier, they get a treat. They get out of the carrier, they get a treat. They get back in the carrier, they get a treat. I think you get the point.
At the TSA checkpoint:
- Prepare before getting in line. This is when you need to be prepared. Go ahead and take off that big watch, belt, and get your paperwork and ID in order. Once you are holding your dog it will be very difficult to take off your belt or shoes.
- Leave your dog in the carrier for the paperwork check. No need to get us out of the carrier yet because this part is for humans only. TSA won’t verify our pet boarding pass and paperwork. That is the job of the airline personnel at the gate.
- The x-ray machine. This is where you take your pup out of the carrier. Even though you have your dog with you, you still have to do everything you normally would such as take your shoes off (if you aren’t in the TSA Pre-Check line) and put all items in the x-ray machine. Your dog’s carrier needs to go through the x-ray machine but the dog SHOULD NOT!!! I admit though, I think it would be funny to see the TSA agent’s reaction to a skeleton dog on their screen … hehehe. So your pup must come out of the carrier and stay with you until finished with security.
- The metal detector. You will either hold your dog as you walk through the machine or have them walk by your side. This is why it is so important your dog doesn’t have much metal on. If you or your dog sets off the metal detector you may have to do a secondary screening.
- The hand swab. You’re not done yet. Now both of your hands must be tested for explosives. You will have to present both hands for swabbing without setting down or letting go of your dog and wait until some machine beeps and the TSA agent says you’re free to go.
- The pat down. Sometimes the TSA agents require that I get patted down. Personally, I think they just want to pet the famous Preston, but Mom says that my ego is getting too big and they just want to make sure I’m not hiding anything in my fur. I admit it, I do have a nice thick fur coat. Needless to say, I like the attention, and they are all very nice to me and say good doggie while they pat me down.
- Back in the carrier. This is the tricky part and when it is great to have someone else there to help you. You need to gather up all your belongings, shoes, computer, and your dog carrier. Then you have to get your dog back in their carrier a.s.a.p. It can be very difficult, especially if you are holding an expensive computer or something else that you don’t want to drop on the floor. Our trick is that we take one of those plastic trays that go through the x-ray machine and I sit in it on a bench where most people put their shoes on. I know I have to sit in the bin until Mom is ready for me to go back into my carrier. This gives Mom some time to get her shoes back on, put her laptop away, etc. This is also when Mom switches my collar back to my regular one before telling me to go in my carrier. Then we are off to our gate!
I love traveling with my humans. With a little planning and knowing what to expect at the TSA security checkpoint with your pet, it will now be a breeze with your pet in tow.
Did I forget any important tips? If so, comment below!
Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Rachael Ray Nutrish. All thoughts and opinions are my own. As always, thank you for reading and supporting our sponsors.