A cat was found inside a passenger’s checked luggage at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York last week, the Transportation Security Administration said.
TSA Confirms Its “His-toric Search” on twitter on tuesday, The outline of a cat can be seen in the X-ray of the luggage in a picture shared by the agency. Another picture shows tufts of orange fur peeking out from the zipper of a suitcase.
Spokesman Lisa Farbstein told USA TODAY on Wednesday morning that a TSA officer found the orange cat on Nov. 16 after the bag “triggered an alarm” during standard X-ray screening for checked luggage. The officer then saw the astonishing X-ray image.
TSA took back the live cat. Farbstein said the agency notified Delta Airlines, the carrier the person was traveling with, and police. The traveler was asked if he knew about the cat.
“From the sounds of it, it was … unintentional,” Farbstein said, adding that the passenger was unaware of the cat being in his luggage.
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The passenger told officers the cat belonged to someone else who lived in his house, Farbstein said. She could not provide details on the cat’s condition, but noted that she had returned home after leaving JFK airport.
“On the bright side, the cat is out of the bag and back home safely,” Farbstein wrote on twitter on Tuesday,
She told USA Today that the passenger, who was traveling from New York with a final destination in Orlando, “was able to rebook her flight for the next day without the cat.”
USA TODAY contacted Delta Airlines for comment Wednesday morning.
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Both the TSA and Delta provide information on guidelines for travelers about traveling with pets on their websites.
The TSA notes that animals should never be put through an airport X-ray tunnel. For example, dogs and cats can either be screened privately in a separate room or walked through a metal detector with a passenger, Farbstein said. But an empty pet carrier still needs to pass through security’s X-ray to make sure there are no prohibited items.
Each airline has a different policy for traveling with animals, so check with your carrier about carry-on policies and/or special shipping options before heading to the airport. Different rules apply to some pets.
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Pets may not be carried in checked baggage. And the cat found at JFK isn’t the first time this has happened. For example, in 2021, a couple traveling to Las Vegas with Southwest Airlines found that their pet chihuahua had stowed away in their suitcase.