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Airport Security with cats- private TSA room experience?

Discussion in 'Cat Behavior' started by littlea, May 31, 2016.

  1. littlea

    littlea Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Jan 11, 2016
    Hi all.

    i need some advice.  I am planning to move this summer, and will take my two cats with me. I plan to fly Southwest, with the cats in the cabin (my mom will be traveling with me). My fear is getting through security. One of my cats is a rescued feral. He tolerates me picking him up for a few seconds, but he doesn't like it. He is a good cat and is bonded to me only. He absolutely is terrified of other people . Like crawls the walls scared out of his mind when the apartment maintenance guy comes in. (I know I should have socialized him better, but I really dont have anyone over.) I've been working on introducing him to the carrier but haven't even been able to accomplish that yet. Leash? Yeah right....

    Anyway, I am reading that you can request a TSA private screening room. Has anyone done this? Is it just an area partitioned off or is this an actual room with a door with no way to escape? I know that people say cats will not bolt when they are scared, but sadly I had a cat that DID bolt (not an airport obviously), and I never found her. I can't risk walking a feral, unsocialized, terrified cat through the metal detector so I'm hoping the private room is a better option. Can anyone offer some insight of how these private rooms are set up? Any pushback from TSA when requesting one? 

  2. kiki39

    kiki39 TCS Member Young Cat

    Mar 21, 2015

    I did that in December at an airport in the US. I was so worried, too!

    This is what I did:

    --Wait in line at the security like everybody else. When I got closer to the gate, I talked to an officer and told him that I have a scaredy cat and we need a private room.

    --I was instructed to go through the security gate alone.

    --An officer took the carrier (and the cat inside) and I followed her into a small room.

    -- In the room, I took my cat out and was told to hold her until they check the carrier through the security machine.

    --Officer came back with the empty carrier. Put the cat back in, and we were ready to go!

    My friend told me that at some airports, they have separate rooms with the security machine inside. I didn't call the airport ahead asking about the procedure, but maybe that would have eased up my mind.

    In my case, it was just a tiny room with one door. There was no way to escape. While waiting for the carrier to get checked, two or three officers were in the room watching me and my cat.

    Just in case, I put a harness on my cat all through the travel. When I took her out at the security, I attached a leash to the harness, just to make sure she doesn't run away.

    My cat also hates to be held like your cat, but with the harness and leash on, I could manage that. Before the flight, I left the carrier out for a while but she never got accustomed to it. She also hates the harness. But we had to fly!

    I bought "safetykatz" harness on Etsy which was recommended here. I didn't try other harnesses but this one is very good, I think.


    I hope this helps :)
    weebeasties, mani and margd purraised this.

  3. littlea

    littlea Thread Starter TCS Member Kitten

    Jan 11, 2016
    Wow thank you so much! That sounds so much less stressful! That helps ease my mind and I do think I will call and ask the set up of private rooms (No idea if it's what I saw- but I do remember seeing a screened off partition at an airport and thinking that was the "private room". I sure would prefer something with a door!!). Luckily, we have two airports in Houston so hopefully one will have a true private room. I know I could make it through the move if I could just have a true room like you did!

  4. luvmyfeline

    luvmyfeline TCS Member Kitten

    Apr 18, 2017
    Hi littlea,

    I'm going through your situation right now and am wondering who to call at the airport. Were you able to find someone at TSA to talk with over the phone about the screening room? Our cat does not do well with anyone but our immediate family and we are moving across the the country. She will likely try to bolt or at the very least hiss and lunge at anyone near her (including me if in a perceived threatening environment, like the vet), so I'd like to minimize the stress upon her in any way during our travels. Thank you so much for this thread!

  5. foxden

    foxden TCS Member Super Cat

    Jan 29, 2017
    Delaware, USA
    Are you taking two cats? Please check with the airline to see if they will allow 2 cats in the cabin. You definitely need this to be the first step in your plans.
    One alternative to flying is to look into pet transport services.
    These are people with vans who will drive your kitty safely from one part of the country to another, thus avoiding the challenge of flying with your cats.
    If you do use a harness, start getting the kitty accustomed to the harness for several weeks before the flight. Start with very short times, and work up to them wearing the harness for several hours

  6. yoko

    yoko TCS Member Kitten

    Jun 19, 2017
    did you successfully request a private screening room for your cat? I will be going through the same situation soon. Just wondering about your experience. Thank you!

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