Pets in Airports: Everything You Need to Know

How Do I Get My Pet Through TSA Security at the Airport?

Your pet must go through TSA Security. Some airports allow a private screening in a separate room so you can remove and replace your pet in a secure room. You pet goes with you through the screening. You can either have your pet on a leash and walk them into the screener or carry your pet through.

The Carrier goes through the x-ray on the conveyor belt. Place your Bags, shoes first.  Separate your pet food items and electronics in another bin.

Keep your lease/harness on the outside of the carrier.  When you put your bags on the conveyor belt, you don’t want to scramble to get your leash.

TSA may ask you to remove their collar. Collars with metal such clasps or Rabies Tags will be detected, and you may be subject to additional pat-down or inspection.

A Velcro harness works well instead of a collar with metal.

Put the carrier on the x-ray conveyor belt first so, it is ready when you get through security, and you don’t have to wait to put your pet back in its carrier.

Even for Cats that you intend to carry through, have a harness/leash on them.  If you are picked for screening, often TSA Agents may not easily let you place your pet back in the carrier before your pat-down.

Working Canines are regularly at Security Check Points.  Keep a leash handy even if you intend to carry your pet through x-ray.  Often, the presence of a working dog can scare or spook your pet.

TIP:  Go to the Pet Relief Area first.  The best-equipped are usually before TSA Security. And, if the Pet Relief area on your concourse is not close to your gate, or you are running late after getting through TSA Security, you will want to visit.

Can My Dog Walk Around the Airport with Me?

Most Airports in the US do not allow you to freely walk your Dog in the terminal or concourse. Leashed or crated Pets are walked through TSA security. Knowing where to find Airport Pet Relief areas for exercise and relief can be very helpful. Most Pet Relief areas, certainly the nicest and largest, are located after  you go through Security.

If you have already passed through TSA security with your Pet but cannot find a Pet Relief area, you can request an escort back through security to avoid the long line.

You Can Use a Cart or Tip a Porter to Transport Your Pet Crate or Pet Carrier

You can hire a Porter, usually with a tip or use a cart or trolley found in most airports.

The cost for a cart to carry your pet and crate or carrier varies from Free to $7.  Most Airports have carts to rent.  Some are Free and Some are Expensive. 

For Example, Mexico’s Benito Juarez International Airport has carts for free along with many Southeast Asian counties I have been to have carts for free (Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand) Airports in the US often charge so bring change or small bills with you.

Denver International Airport charges $4.50 for use of a cart and gives change in Sacagawea dollars.  You may find an abandoned cart and if you return yours all the way back to where you got it, you only get a quarter to return your cart.

Can I Walk My Pet During Layovers?

Some airlines and airport facilities allow you to visit your pet.  Not all airports allow you to visit or walk your pet regardless of the length of the layover.  For example, Hamad International airport in Doha prohibits any traveler from visiting their pet during a layover. 

The concierge at the airport can check on your pet at the holding facility and report back to you during your layover.  This is readily available in first-class lounges–yet another reason to consider paying for lounge access if it’s not already included in your flight.

If you are allowed access to visit your pet, you can take them, on leash, to the pet relief areas inside the airport.

You can and should contact your airlines in advance and ask if you will be allowed to visit your pet during a layover.  If you can visit your pet, locate the pet-relief areas and enjoy visiting your pet.

Some travelers choose not to visit their pet even when they are allowed.  You know your pet best and maybe reuniting only to be separated again an hour or two later is more stressful for your pet.  For some pets, that little respite of time to be with you again can be everything they need to stay calm and get through the rest of their journey. See Layovers with Pets

See Also, how to Pick Up and Drop Off your pet at the airport here:

VIP or Fast Track Program in Airports to Carry You and Your Pet Through the Airport.

I hired a Fast Track Concierge service in Bangkok, and it made getting through the airport so much easier with my Pets.–absolutely worth the extra cash!  When I walked off the plane I was greeted at the gate by a driver and private cart. It was a treat to see my name on the placard held by my driver. 

He loaded my carry on and cats in their carrier, we rode on a cart through the huge, unfamiliar airport, past all the other travelers, through customs, we stopped for a bathroom break at the Pet Relief area, then onto the front of the line at passport control, the closest atm for a little bit of cash, my driver collected baggage pick up and out to my car.  No navigating, no long walks through the concourse, no trying to find the pet relief area—just relaxing and easy. 

This is a great service when you’re in a large or unfamiliar airport such as Bangkok was for me.  It’s a great service for anyone traveling with Pets or those with mobility issues.

Cost: in Bangkok I paid $110usd–well worth the splurge. Another thing absolutely worth the extra cash is my favorite Pet Carrier. I have traveled with 4 others and this one is so adaptable to many airlines regulations for size, it’s lightweight and holds up to being slid across floors and under seats and a good washing. I love my Gen7Pets Commuter Pet Carrier & Car Seat Burgundy

Gen7Pets Commuter Pet Carrier & Car Seat Burgundy
Petmate Gen7Pets Commuter–All Around Great Carrier

What is the Standard Size for Airline Pet Carriers In-Cabin?

The Standard Size for Pet Carriers is 22”Lx14”Wx 9” and for Pets In-Cabin the average weight for your Pet is 8kg or 17lbs. Soft-Sided Carriers are best for Airlines. The top compresses 1 or 2 inches, giving you more options than a Hard-Sided carrier. The carrier must be stowed under the seat at least for take-off and landing.

See also, Dogs in Airports: Where to Go When Dogs Have to “Go”

RELATED: Dogs in Airports: Where to Go When Dogs Have to “Go”

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