TSA has a PSA for traveling pet owners: For the love of all that is good, stop putting your pets through the X-ray machine.
According to a report from The Washington Post, there’s been an uptick in passengers traveling with pets of late, which in and of itself is not problematic. It’s that the overwhelming majority of those passengers are reportedly leaving said pets in their carrier and sending them down the conveyor belt at the TSA checkpoint.
“No living creature, human or animal, needs to be exposed to X-rays they don’t need,” TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein said.
Instead, TSA’s pet policy states that the animal should be removed from the carrier and walked through the metal detector like you would a small child. If your pet is a clothed cutie, it may subject to a pat down. Further, if the animal is anxious, reactive or prone to escaping, you can request a private screening room.
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And if you think cheating the system is going to save you some time? You are incorrect. If a TSA officer sees an animal on the belt, they’re going to make you go back through and redo the screening.
Of course, this doesn’t take into consideration the overabundance of weirdos who every year attempt to sneak exotic or otherwise banned animals through security. In December, for example, a Florida woman was caught trying to bring a four-foot-long “emotional support boa constrictor” through a TSA checkpoint in her carry-on. A month before that, a 42-year-old man was found to have a live, three-foot-long, plastic-wrapped albino alligator stashed in his suitcase in Munich Airport in Germany (the gator was reportedly in rough shape at the time it was found because, get this, you can’t pack a live animal in a suitcase).
Then there’s also the rare occasion where a pet sneaks into a suitcase unbeknownst to the owner, as was the case at JFK Airport in November when a TSA officer found a cat in a checked bag. But if you’re just a normal passenger bringing your normal pet through security, don’t set it on the X-ray conveyor belt. And in case anyone needs to hear this (which, according to Farbstein, they do) this sentiment also applies to human babies…a thing I unfortunately do not have the time or energy to address at this time.
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