TSA Stops Woman from Bringing Boa Constrictor on Flight in Tampa

No snakes on this plane.

The boa constrictor found by TSA in a carry on bag at Tampa International Airport

Courtesy of TSA

A Florida traveler tried to bring a real snake on a plane, claiming the animal was an emotional support pet.

The boa constrictor, named Bartholomew, was caught in someone’s carry-on luggage during security screening at the Tampa International Airport, according to the Transportation Security Administration. The 4-foot-long snake was found coiled up inside the bag in December along with other items for the trip, TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein told Travel + Leisure.

“Snake on a plane? This is a @TSA X-ray of Bartholomew, a boa constrictor who was in a traveler's carry-on bag at @FlyTPA last month,” Farbstein tweeted. “Woman claimed the snake was her emotional support pet. TSA notified the airline, which ruled that there was not going to be a snake on their plane!”

Following the bust, the agency posted on Instagram that airlines don’t allow snakes to travel in carry-on bags, “and only a few allow them to slither around in checked bags, if packaged correctly.”

“Has all this left you wanting to squeeze out more travel answers?” the TSA wrote in the post. “You can always mamba on over to our friends at AskTSA! They’ll rattle out responses to your questions 7 days a week, from 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (ET).”

Qualified service animals and some pets are allowed on planes, but many U.S. airlines have banned emotional support animals. Previous accommodations were made for emotional support animals to fly for free on U.S. airlines, but the Department of Transportation reversed its rules and allowed carriers to make their own policies concerning these animals.

In many cases, travelers can also fly with small pets on board, but pet policies vary from airline to airline and often come with fees and breed restrictions.

This isn’t the first time the TSA has discovered a pet in an X-ray machine. In November, for example, a cat was found hiding in someone’s checked luggage at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport, having climbed in without the owner’s knowledge. And last year, a small Chihuahua was discovered after it snuck into its owners' suitcase. That dog, named Icky, was found thanks to an overweight bag when the owners tried to check in for a Southwest Airlines flight from Lubbock, Texas, to Las Vegas.

Was this page helpful?
Related Articles