According to TSA spokeswoman Lisa Farbstein, the stowaway was discovered when an alarm went off at JFK’s checked baggage screening point on Nov. 16. The agents looked at the X-ray image and saw a clear outline of the animal.
“The kiss was opened by a TSA officer, who was surprised to see an orange cat inside,” Farbstein wrote in an email.
We let the cat find the husk track from the bag. This CATch had our baggage screening officers @JFAirport Says, “Come on Meow!” Feel free to reach out to our friends if you have travel questions @AskTSA. They are available daily from 8am to 6pm (ET). pic.twitter.com/LpIkLbAgzC
TSA (@TSA) November 22, 2022
TSA agents contacted Delta, the passenger airline, which then turned the passenger over to Orlando, Farbstein said. The traveler said that it is not a cat, but someone else in the house.
The cat returned home safely, but as a result of the fly fiasco, the passenger missed his flight. He was able to rebook for the next day, “without the cat!” Farbstein added.
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On Tuesday, Farbstein Tweeted A photo of the incident, showing a black suitcase, slightly opened, with orange paint clearly visible.
A @TSA The officer was surprised to find an orange cat in a checked bag @JFAirport After it passes through the X-ray unit. The passenger said the cat belonged to someone else in his home. On the bright side, the cat is out of the bag and back home safely. pic.twitter.com/5XZVJLaZNm
— Lisa Farbstein, TSA spokesperson (@TSA_Northeast) November 22, 2022
It was not the first time in recent years that an animal found its way onto a nearby flight, unknown to its owners. In October 2021, Christy and Jared Owens were checking their luggage at Lubbock Preston Smith International Airport in Texas when a Southwest Airlines ticket agent informed them that the bag was overweight.
When the couple opened the bag to refill and avoid the fee, they were surprised to find Ikee, their 5-pound Chihuahua, tucked into one of Jared’s cowboy boots.
The couple discovered that their luggage was overweight because of the dog’s presence
“It was just reality,” Christie told The Washington Post at the time. “Are we really going to see our dog in our suitcase right now? Is this happening?”
With the help of Southwest employees, Owens got a relative to pick up Ike and hold him for their flight to Las Vegas.
Both Icky and the Orlando-bound cat are lucky to have been found before being put on the plane with the rest of the checked baggage, which could have been fatal. Luggage on passenger flights is pressurized, but they can come down to cold temperatures, according to Air Canada.
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On Delta, small dogs, cats and family birds can travel in cabin cargo, but for larger pets that need to travel in the hold, special arrangements must be made through Delta Cargo.
At the security checkpoint, pets must be removed from their carriers and go through a screening machine, according to the TSA’s instruction sheet, “Carrying Your Human on a Plane: What Every Pet Should Know.”
“Don’t put me in the X-ray tunnel. Seriously, it’s not fun for me,” the agency says. “Take me out, put my travel carrier on the belt, and leave my x-rays to the doctor.”