Traveling is for the dogs...and cats and other small pets

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Local Press Release
Wednesday, August 27, 2014

SEATTLE — With the state of Washington ranking sixth nationwide in households that own a pet, it comes as no surprise that hundreds of people fly out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) every day with their small animals. Traveling through the Transportation Security Administration security checkpoint with your small pet can be easy if you know what to expect.

"TSA recognizes that for many pet owners, their animals are an extension of their family and they want to travel together," said TSA Federal Security Director Jeff Holmgren, state of Washington. "Becoming familiar with the procedures of how to clear security quickly and easily is the first step to a great trip."

If a pet is traveling in the cabin of an airplane with its owner, TSA must screen it at the security checkpoint. Below is what pet owners can expect:

  • All pets should be brought to the security checkpoint in a hand-held travel carrier. Remove the pet from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process.
  • Do not put the pet into the x-ray tunnel, which is used to screen a passenger's personal property and carry-on luggage. Place the empty travel carrier on the belt to be x-rayed.
  • The pet should be carried during the screening process; alternately, a pet can walk thru the process if the owner has the pet on a leash.
  • A TSA officer will give the pet owner’s hands an explosive trace detection swab to ensure there is no explosive residue on the hands.
  • Once the screening process is completed, owners should return the pet to the travel carrier at the re-composure area, away from the security checkpoint for the safety of the pet as well as other passengers.

Other helpful travel tips to make your trip thru security as easy as possible include:

  • Acclimate the pet to the process of traveling by familiarizing it with the travel carrier in the days leading up to the trip. This will help ensure it is more relaxed as it travels thru the security process and the airport.
  • Avoid bringing pets to an area of the airport where a “working” K9 is operating with its handler. Areas where it is common to see a working K9 may include a security checkpoint or in the airport concourse.
  • Know the temperament of your pet and ensure that you can maintain control of it in a busy and potentially crowded environment at the airport.
  • Prior to arriving at the checkpoint, consider visiting one of SEA’s two designated “pet relief” areas located at the north and south ends of the airport. There is a pet relief area located post-security near the concourse B exit, across from Hudson News.
  • Pet travel restrictions vary by airline, so please check with your air carrier before arriving at the airport.

For information on traveling with service animals or for other special circumstances, please visit this site or contact TSA by calling 866-289-9673 or emailing Additional information on traveling with pets is available via the TSA Blog.