TSA offers tips for traveling with small pets through the security checkpoint at PDX during spring break and year round

Local Press Release
Wednesday, March 15, 2023
If traveling with a pet, remove the pet from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process. (TSA photo)

PORTLAND, Oregon - With the spring break travel period upon us, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is expecting to see a marked increase in the number of pets brought to the security checkpoint at Portland International Airport (PDX). Traveling through the security checkpoint with your pet can be easy when you know what to expect.

“We at TSA want to make sure that travelers know that if they are planning to travel with the family pet, we have procedures in place to make the security screening process simple for all,” said TSA Federal Security Director for Oregon Kathleen McDonald. “Becoming familiar with the procedures and how to clear security quickly and easily is the first step to embarking on a great trip with your pet.”

Over the past few months, TSA has seen incidents where pets have been screened through an X-ray unit in the checkpoint. While this happens relatively infrequently and the pets were fortunately unharmed, in every case, the pets should not have been screened through by X-ray.

Small pets can travel in the cabin of the aircraft with their owners. TSA will screen pets via 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.
  • Place the empty travel carrier so it can be x-rayed.
  • Never place a pet in the x-ray tunnel. The x-ray at the security checkpoint is used to screen passengers’ personal property and carry-on luggage only.
  • If possible, carry the pet during the screening process. Alternately, a pet can walk through the screening 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 owner’s hands.
  • Once the screening process is complete, owners should return the pet to the travel carrier at the re-composure area away from the security checkpoint. This location helps ensure the safety of the pet as well as other passengers.

For pet owners who do not want to remove your pet from the carrier because they are worried about your pet running away in an open area, they can ask the TSA officer for a private screening with the owner and the pet.

Other helpful travel tips to make the 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 familiarization will help ensure the pet is more relaxed as it travels through the security process and the airport.
  •  Be on the lookout for “working” K9s and handlers at the airport. Areas where it is common to see a working K9 at airports may include a security checkpoint or in the terminal concourse.
  • Know the temperament of your pet and ensure that you can maintain control of it in a busy and potentially crowded transportation environment.
  • Familiarize yourself with the pet relief areas at PDX including:
  • Baggage claim at south end of the terminal’s lower level (pre-security)
  • If departing from B and C gates, area adjacent to the Alaska Lounge
  • If departing from D or E gates, area across from gate D5

Pet travel restrictions vary by airline, so please check with your air carrier before traveling with your pet. For information on traveling with service animals or for other special circumstances, please reach out to the TSA Contact Center by calling 866-289-9673 or by emailing TSAContactCenter@tsa.dhs.gov.