Tuesday, April 2, 2013

TSA Travel Tips Tuesday: Traveling can be for the dogs. And cats, birds, etc…



This is the first installment of “TSA Travel Tips Tuesday.” Every Tuesday, I plan to share tips for convenient travel and other useful customer information on my blog. If you have your own tips to add, please feel free to leave a comment!
Dogs & Cats
Photo Courtesy of Willmar
Traveling with pets… TSA does not prohibit travel with pets. However, it is very important that you contact your airline first so they can let you know about any requirements, fees, or restrictions they might have.

Checkpoint Screening: Your pet will need to be screened via checkpoint screening if it’s traveling with you in the cabin of the plane.

  • We do not X-ray pets. However, there have been many occasions where passengers have assumed their pet needed to go through the X-ray. You can imagine the surprise of the X-ray operator when they see Fluffy’s skeleton roll across their monitor. It is not an unusual occurrence.
  • Your pet will need to come out of its carrier, so it is a good idea to know how your pet will react. Many a cat has gone into a feline frenzy after being removed from its carrier. An angry cat is never a good thing.
  • Even if your travel is “off the leash,” you should strongly consider keeping your pet on a leash. The checkpoint is a noisy environment that can cause your pet to flee at its first opportunity. This happens with humans occasionally as well.
  • Your pet can be carried through the walk through metal detector or walked through on leash. If your pet triggers an alarm, one of our officers will have to take a closer look.
  • Pets are not screened with advanced imaging technology.

Checked Baggage: If your pet is traveling in a kennel, your airline will arrange for a TSA Officer to screen the kennel.

  • Officers will need to inspect your kennel/carrier for prohibited items with you present. Sometimes this can be done visually, but it’s good to have a leash handy in case the officer asks you to remove your pet from the kennel/carrier.

If your pet isn’t the usual cat or dog and you would like to give TSA a heads up, you can contact a TSA Customer Support Manager at your departure airport using Talk to TSA.

If you’re traveling with a service animal, you can find more information here. You can also call the TSA Cares Help Line.

If you’re traveling with a Mog, they can be screened as a regular passenger.

See you next Tuesday with more travel tips! 


If you have a travel related issue or question that needs an immediate answer, you can contact us by clicking here.

55 comments:

Wintermute said...

Question: If I travel with Fluffy, and Fluffy doesn't go through AIT, does that mean I don't go through AIT? Or is it possible I could be separated from my pet?

@SkyWayManAz said...

Wintermute said:

"Fluffy doesn't go through AIT, does that mean I don't go through AIT?"

I'm no fan of AIT. I think TSA routinely dismisses legitimate safety concerns about the technology. They also refuse to provide their workers dosimeter badges which might give them a heads up if the equipment was starting to drift out of calibration. However unlike yourself Fluffy is already naked at the checkpoint...at least I hope unlike you.

Anonymous said...

Where's the blog post about DHS & TSA accepting public comments about the "AIT" (nude-o-scope) scanners?

Anonymous said...

Bob - thanks for a great article.

Looking for tips, I think the best tip is for travelers to recognize that the checkpoint personnel are live actual human beings, there to do their job. Just like me, when I'm doing my job.

As a frequent traveler, In addition to the 3-1-1 rule, my own rules to follow for quick and efficient screening:
1) greet the person checking with a good morning, good afternoon, etc.
2) before #1, take the 10 seconds that it takes to get your ID out so you can hand it to him/her as you approach. Don't get there and then reach to get your wallet.
3) if there's a TSA agent standing near the x-rays reminding take your belts off, it means that people are forgetting a lot today. Go ahead and unbuckle that belt and start sliding it off.
4) in the AIT scanners, remember to make like Mickey Mouse ears with your hands as the ears.
5) if called for a bag check, remember the agent is there doing his/her job, and listen to what the agent is asking you or directing you to do. Something didn't look right in the x-ray, or you've missed something in your bag that should be in checked luggage.
6) remember the agents don't like sharp pointy things. If its sharp or pointy, it might not belong in your carry on luggage in the first place.

I don't know if these are all obvious or not, but it's how I get trough my checkpoints every week.

Thanks for your blog -- I look forward to it each week.

Brian -
Home airport- CMH

Anonymous said...

@Wintermute: You will not go through the AIT if you travel with a pet (using the AIT requires you to have your arms up above your head. You won't be able to do that if you are carrying your pet).

As Bob said, you can either carry your pet, or walk your pet with a leash (best to have a non-metallic one) to go through the walk-through metal detector. If you carry your pet through the WTMD, you will also get your hands swabbed. If the WTMD alarms, and continues to alarm after several passes, TSA officer will come take a look at your pet as Bob said, and you will get a pat-down.

Laura Monteros said...

Good info, Bob!

Anonymous said...

MOG!!!!! You just earned yourself 500 cool points for the Mog info/ link! Thanks Bob, that was awesome!

-HNL

Officer Carl said...

In ten years of passenger screening I have to say I have never screened a Service Monkey or a "Mog". Maybe today will be the day. Thanks for an informative and refreshing post.

Anonymous said...

the checkpoint personnel are live actual human beings, there to do their job. Just like me, when I'm doing my job.

Does your job involve the harassment and illegal search of people who's only crime is wanting to travel by air?

RB said...

Since TSA ait travel has gone to the dogs.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "Traveling Off The Leash:" Many, Many, Many Airports (NOT TSA) have regulations requiring that your pet be on a leash. Best bet-have a leash.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"As Bob said, you can either carry your pet, or walk your pet with a leash (best to have a non-metallic one) to go through the walk-through metal detector. If you carry your pet through the WTMD, you will also get your hands swabbed. If the WTMD alarms, and continues to alarm after several passes, TSA officer will come take a look at your pet as Bob said, and you will get a pat-down."

So, this means all that I have to do to avoid both AIT and the pat-down is to travel with Fluffy and avoid alarming the WTMD?

Jerome Solanum said...

what's with the jokes? Travel security is serious business, and you discredit yourself when you start making jokes and movie references. Please refrain from doing so in the future, if you want the public (including the haterz) to take you seriously.

Adrian said...

Is there any plan to announce on this blog that the TSA has finally (more than 18 months after being ordered to by a judge) begun the notice of rulemaking and public comment procedure the law required of the TSA before putting the whole-body imaging devices into service as a primary means of screening?

The notice is in the Federal Register here: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2013/03/26/2013-07023/passenger-screening-using-advanced-imaging-technology

And one of the ways for the public to provide comments is to fill out this form: http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=TSA-2013-0004-0001

This should rate a front-page post soon.

@SkyWayManAz said...

Anonymous said:

"4) in the AIT scanners, remember to make like Mickey Mouse ears with your hands as the ears. "

How would you advise politely opting out of AIT in a friendly way that reminds the helpful folks at TSA that it is optional and you have that right without getting yelled at?

Just asking because I actually do the other things but opting out frequently brings out the hostile behavior. I'll need a pat down if I go through it anyway. I always say where it will alarm on me and I'm never touched there either.

Anonymous said...

So, this means all that I have to do to avoid both AIT and the pat-down is to travel with Fluffy and avoid alarming the WTMD?

Did Bob just give terrorists a tip on how to sneak non-metallic threats through TSA security?

Mike Toreno said...

Brian, here's what I do:

I use the ID I want to use, whether or not the clerk paid sufficient attention to his training to recognize it. When I get to the table, I organize my things on my own time and put them through on my own time, making sure that I have everything and that everything is where I want it to be. The smarter the clerk is, the less likely it is for something to "not look right" on X-ray. I didn't establish the poor hiring practices at the TSA, and if I am delayed because the clerk isn't smart enough to recognize what's right in front of his face, I don't blame myself.

I get through my checkpoints just fine doing this, and I actually do travel frequently.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"Did Bob just give terrorists a tip on how to sneak non-metallic threats through TSA security?"

That would seem to be the case, and was also the reason for my line of questioning... However, I have one more for the anonymous who answered...

So, if Icarry Fluffy through the WTMD, my hands get swabbed, but if I walk Fluffy through on a leash, they don't? Assuming I don't alarm, is this correct? If so, have there been any studies showing that people carrying there pets through are more of a risk than ones who walk them through on a leash? For that matter, has one been done showing that people travelling with pets are less of a risk than those travelling without?

These are serious questions, as it appears to open a HUGE security hole...

Anonymous said...

OK, so now I know that if I want to avoid the horrid full body scanners without being treated to the retaliatory rub down plus hands-in-pants, all I have to do is take my pet with me! Thanks for the help!

Anonymous said...

Hey @SkyWayManAz --

Your question about how to politely opt out... I haven't been in this situation personally, but I've seen it done by others. You are talking to the guy/gal checking our ID. You say "Hey - I have a xxxxx condition, and it's usually easier on all of us if I go through the mag rather than AIT... may I opt out?" Let them help you, rather than making demands.

I'm not TSA - Maybe Bob can ask an officer for some specific advice here.

Anonymous said...

Does your job involve the harassment and illegal search of people who's only crime is wanting to travel by air?

Come on - really? the fact that you believe these folks are there to commit crimes by performing illegal searches and seizures all day long (ok, let's just say it -- violating your 4th amendment rights), then you probably need to get a better grip on reality.

Do you think these officers come to work each day looking for people to harass? Do you think that's fun for them?

Or, have you considered that maybe - just maybe - they come to work hoping that they make it through without getting yelled at, without upsetting an elderly person to the point where it puts them in distress, and hoping today's not the day they find a loaded gun, hoping today's not the day they find something unique that later ends up making the news... or worse, miss something that ends up making the news. There's a lot of stress there, and a lot on the line.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to do their job for a day?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
4) in the AIT scanners, remember to make like Mickey Mouse ears with your hands as the ears.

No. The proper pose for the AIT scanners is the Hands-Up-I-Surrender pose as if the Police have you at gun point.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous and Wintermute,

There are many procedures you are not aware of that take place during screening. Bob did not identify a hole. LOL

Anonymous said...

I took my dog in a kennel once. It was an easy process for me but I think the stress of the travel almost killed the poor thing.

Anonymous said...

"There's a lot of stress there, and a lot on the line. Have you ever thought about what it would be like to do their job for a day? "

I would rather stab my eyes out with an ice pick!

Anonymous said...

I think it's utterly ridiculous to be required to remove a cat from a carrier, whether its collar is attached to a leash or not. I know, I know. The pat reply will be "BUT A TERRORIST WILL PUT A BOMB IN A CAT CARRIER AND WE'LL ALL DIIIIIIE!"

No, what you're going to have with this ridiculous rule is a terrified cat being removed from a place of safety and surrounded by loud people and noises in an unfamiliar place. Since most cat collars today have quick release or elastic bands to prevent a cat from choking itself, the leash proposition will probably fail. A loose cat at the checkpoint will waste a lot more time than careful inspection of the animal in the carrier.

I know, I know. The next pat response will be, "DON'T BRING A CAT ON BOARD!!!!" or "DON'T FLY!!!"

Wrong answer. People have the right to fly and the right to carry their animals (property) in the way they feel is best and that conforms with transportation rules. Since pets are allowed on board planes, someone can fly with their cat.

I know, I know. "WELL THEN, WHY DON'T YOU MAKE A SUGGESTION?!!"

OK, here it is. If the TSA insists on a cat being removed from the carrier, do it in an enclosed space where if the cat slips its collar, it cannot run free in the terminal and get hurt.

Anonymous said...

Quoted: "Anonymous said...

OK, here it is. If the TSA insists on a cat being removed from the carrier, do it in an enclosed space where if the cat slips its collar, it cannot run free in the terminal and get hurt.

April 4, 2013 at 12:01 PM
-------------------------
All you have to do is ask. They will screen you and your animal in the private screening room if you request it. Easier to complain though, I guess.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...
Anonymous and Wintermute,

"There are many procedures you are not aware of that take place during screening. Bob did not identify a hole. LOL"

Actually, as stated, he did. The procedure for me if I take Fluffy though the WTMD on a leash and neither of us alarm is... nothing beyond having just gone through the WTMD, as the pat-down would only be done if I alarm (not that the pat-down is particularly effective and finding underwear bombs, as recent red-team tests show). Or are you saying this is not the case?

RB said...

Anonymous said...
Does your job involve the harassment and illegal search of people who's only crime is wanting to travel by air?

Come on - really? the fact that you believe these folks are there to commit crimes by performing illegal searches and seizures all day long (ok, let's just say it -- violating your 4th amendment rights), then you probably need to get a better grip on reality.

Do you think these officers come to work each day looking for people to harass? Do you think that's fun for them?

Or, have you considered that maybe - just maybe - they come to work hoping that they make it through without getting yelled at, without upsetting an elderly person to the point where it puts them in distress, and hoping today's not the day they find a loaded gun, hoping today's not the day they find something unique that later ends up making the news... or worse, miss something that ends up making the news. There's a lot of stress there, and a lot on the line.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to do their job for a day?

April 3, 2013 at 7:57 PM
.............
For starters TSA screeners are not officers not matter what TSA thinks.

When TSA makes the news it because a TSA screener fouls up. It happens almost weekly.

Any stress at a TSA checkpoint is caused by TSA screeners who yell, demand, and try to order people about when such acts are just not needed.

TSA and its employees are what's wrong with airport security, not the travelers who are going about their Constitutional Right to Travel without interference from the government.

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"Maybe Bob can ask an officer for some specific advice here."

They're not "officers," they're "agents."

Susan Richart said...

Where did the thread on the TSA Comment period go, Bob? There were two responses when I read it.

screen shot

RB said...

The TSA blog had a short post about the comment period for WBI as ordered by a federal court up on 4/4/13. Where did it go?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
Do you think these officers come to work each day looking for people to harass? Do you think that's fun for them?

Yes- positions of authority often attract, well, to be honest- sociopaths. People who enjoy having power over others.

Or, have you considered that maybe - just maybe - they come to work hoping that they make it through without getting yelled at, without upsetting an elderly person to the point where it puts them in distress

Have you (or, have they) considered that being a TSA screener isn't the right job for them?? If you can't stand the heat... don't become a cook.

Have you ever thought about what it would be like to do their job for a day?

Yeah. It'd be cool to be able to feel people up, steal stuff from their luggage, and be able to intimidate them with 'Do You Want To Fly Today?!"

Unfortunately, I have morals, and would never work for the TSA.

Susan Richart said...

Hey, Bob, want to post something about the guy at JFK who got himself on a plane using his SIDA card after being turned away at a checkpoint - and while a screener watched him using this SIDA card to get to his plane?

screen shot

Wintermute said...

I, too, am curious about the missing post. What happened to it?

Anonymous said...

Susan Richart said...

Where did the thread on the TSA Comment period go, Bob?


It is on display in the bottom of a locked filing cabinet stuck in a disused lavatory with a sign on the door saying 'Beware of the Leopard'.

Anonymous said...

What if my dog runs through a recently fertilized lawn or garden before I get to the airport? Won't that alarm on a swab? Will you have to pat him down?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Quoted: "Anonymous said...

OK, here it is. If the TSA insists on a cat being removed from the carrier, do it in an enclosed space where if the cat slips its collar, it cannot run free in the terminal and get hurt.

April 4, 2013 at 12:01 PM
-------------------------
All you have to do is ask. They will screen you and your animal in the private screening room if you request it. Easier to complain though, I guess.

April 4, 2013 at 1:22 PM


What are you talking about, Anonymous? I presented an issue with the post as written by Bob and provided a possible solution. I never said a passenger shouldn't or couldn't ask for a private room.

Now, the question is, will the TSA screener comply with the request? Based upon TSA history, I think there will be some screeners who will refuse this practical, common sense request.

Or better yet, why not have management tell screeners to suggest a private room or using the Glass Box of Shame? That gives the passenger the option. I am certain some infrequent flyers don't know a private room even exists.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous asked...
[[Where's the blog post about DHS & TSA accepting public comments about the "AIT" (nude-o-scope) scanners?]]

I'm not aware of any legal requirement for a blog post for a public omments period. Please take a moment and provide us with a link to the relevant legislation or regulation.

Anonymous said...

People shouldn't have to ask to have their cats screened in an enclosed space. This situation is scary and awful for both cats and their owners (I know, I've done it), and we shouldn't have to muster up the courage to demand the only sane, safe, and humane way for it to be done and risk being accused of interfering with the screening. An enclosed space should be the DEFAULT screening of a cat coming out of a carrier, and until it is passing through the TSA should be considered unsafe for and even hostile toward cats.

Adrian said...

Thanks for posting about the rulemaking notice, but why was the post taken down?

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...

"I'm not aware of any legal requirement for a blog post for a public omments period. Please take a moment and provide us with a link to the relevant legislation or regulation."

Did anyone say there was a legal requirement to post is on this blog? The question was, what happened to the post that WAS on this blog? They HAD posted the notification, then took it down.

Anonymous said...

Okay, I'm not understanding the big deal with the officers vs. agents argument...I mean really?!!! Do you have nothing better to do? And yes, they are called officers. TSO stands for transportation security OFFICER, not agent. Why is that title such a big deal to you?

Wintermute said...

Anonymous said...
Okay, I'm not understanding the big deal with the officers vs. agents argument...

It has to do with doublethink. I'm working on an essay that I'll post to my blog in a week or so. I won't link to it here, but my blog is easy enough to find ;)

I mean really?!!! Do you have nothing better to do?

How is what I do with my spare time relevant to the discussion. You have nothing better to do than comment on my lack of better things to do?

And yes, they are called officers. TSO stands for transportation security OFFICER, not agent.

Regardless of the title (which, I suspect, was purposely chosen), they are agents, not officers.

Why is that title such a big deal to you?

Doublethink. Keep an eye out for my essay if you're really curious as to why it matters. Or don't if you're not.

Baani said...

Hello, Bob, thank you very much for such valuable tips, I travel very often but never stuck in any trouble.

Baani

Tammy said...

We use your blog a lot because we travel extensively and have pets. TSA is a really good site and very helpful. When we were boarding a plane back from Haiti there was a man that kept trying to hide something. He'd got a snake and was trying to bring in back to the states. This is a very good thing.

Gloria said...

I am in awe of the last post! Hiding a snake in a personal bag OMG! This is insane. I have heard of this before but not with poisonious reptiles.
Im glad theres strick rules for this now, for sure

Kelly said...

Yes I knew one person that actually put an exotic baby capuchin monkey from the rainforest in his bag. He said when he got on the plane it started chirping like a bird. They charged him with it.They carry all types of dieseases.

Anonymous said...

When you travel to a foreign country, especially a developing country, you need to ensure that you contact a travel health specialist at least 4-8 weeks before the date of travel. This applies to humans and in some situations their pets too.

Anonymous said...

Flying out of Logan next week, moving cross-country with cat. What is best way to counter expected resistance to my request for private screening of cat carrier. I know I can't safely hang onto her out in the open. Yes, I am looking for Magic Words here, and I don't mean "please." I know that one and have no trouble using it. Anything else? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

It is also very important to have updated pet tags on your pets when you leave town just in case they get loose while on vacation.

Also, make sure that you list any meds that your pets need to take.

Giovani said...

Very good to know!
But what about traveling abroad?
How here can I found the regulamentation to know if can travel from another country to US without problems?

I am the editor of I love Pets, from Brazil, and want to publish the right information there!

THnks

Susan K said...

Bob, this is a very informative article. I am always looking for up to date answers to travel questions when I ship one of my Yorkies.

I can send people to your article to reassure them as to what to expect when traveling with their precious Yorkie puppy.

dagracey.com said...

re: The checkpoint is a noisy environment that can cause your pet to flee at its first opportunity. This happens with humans occasionally as well.

Brilliant, so true. LOL

Anonymous said...

Good tips. Also, remember to never take anything personally. When the agent says something, listen, and don't assume they have something against you. They are just doing their job, just like a doctor and lawyer do their jobs.