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TSA found a stowaway cat in a checked bag at JFK airport


For once, it’s good that the cat is out of the bag.

When a New York traveler unwittingly packed a cat into checked luggage earlier this month, the cat would have made it onto a flight to Florida if not for the X-ray machine and security agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, according to the Transportation Security Administration .

the stowaway was discovered when an alarm went off at JFK’s checked baggage checkpoint on Nov. 16, according to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein. Agents looked at the X-ray and saw the clear outline of an animal.

“The bag was opened by a TSA officer, who was shocked to see a live orange cat inside,” Farbstein wrote in an email.

TSA agents contacted Delta, the passenger’s airline, which then called the passenger to Orlando, Farbstein said. The passenger said the cat was not his but belonged to another person in his household.

The cat was safely returned home, but as a result of the cat fiasco, the passenger missed his flight. He was able to rebook for the next day, “without the cat!” Farbstein added.

Everything to know about flying with pets, from the people who do it the most

On Tuesday, Colorstone tweeted a photo from the incident, showing a black suitcase, slightly unlocked, with orange fur clearly visible inside.

This was not the first time in recent years that a pet almost found its way onto a flight, unknown to its owners. In October 2021, Kristi and Jared Owens were checking their luggage at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport in Texas when the Southwest Airlines ticket agent informed them that the luggage was overweight.

When the couple opened the bag to repack and avoid a fee, they were shocked to discover Icky, their 5-pound chihuahua, tucked inside one of Jared’s cowboy boots.

The couple find that their luggage is overweight due to the stowaway’s dog

“It was just surreal,” Kristi told The Washington Post at the time. “Do we really see our dog in our suitcase right now? Is this happening?”

With the help of Southwest employees, the Owenses called a relative to pick up Icky and set off to fly to Las Vegas.

Both Icky and the Orlando-bound cat are lucky to have been found before they were placed on a plane with the rest of their checked luggage, which could have been fatal. Baggage storage on passenger planes is under pressure, but they can drop to cold temperatures, according to Air Canada.

How to help the street cats and dogs you meet while traveling

On Delta, small dogs, cats and domestic birds can travel in a carrier in the cabin, but for larger pets that must travel in the hold, special arrangements must be made through Delta Cargo.

At security, pets should be removed from their carriers and carried through the screening machine, according to the TSA’s tips page, “Take Your Human on a Plane: What Every Pet Needs to Know.”

“Don’t put me in the X-ray tunnel. Seriously, it’s not fun for me, says the agency. “Take me out, put my EMPTY travel carrier on my belt, and leave my x-rays with the vet.”

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