Getting a Cactus through Airport Security

Can you get a cactus through security and take it home on an airplane? My Ngoc To did, as she wrote in the Harvard Crimson recently.

I have a pet cactus, and his name is Earl….

I was a bit nervous going to the airport. I was really afraid that they wouldn’t let him through because I know they usually don’t allow pets or plants on any international flight. But I figured—this is a domestic flight, and Earl wouldn’t hurt anybody … his spines are fuzzy. But just in case something happened, I asked my parents to stand outside of the security line so that I could give them Earl if he couldn’t pass. They waited.

I walked up to the start of the security line and handed my ID to the man at the counter. He saw Earl in my hand, looked at me, and said, “You’d better not eat that thing—I hear they’re poisonous.” He smiled and let me through.

The real panic came at the security line. I didn’t think I could carry Earl in my hands through the scan. I couldn’t put him on the conveyer belt either because a million monstrosities could happen to him—he could get knocked off, he could get confiscated, he could get tipped over or caught in one of the grooves and lose all his soil. Luckily, I realized that I could nestle him inside one of the trays.

I went through the scan and looked back in anticipation at the man overlooking the scans. A few beats passed, and I knew that Earl was safe when the man turned back, gave me a weird look and shook his head. He was trying hard not to smile.

Click through for the picture of the happy cactus. And now you know how to get a cactus through airport security.

Do you have a traveling-with-cactus-story to share?

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February 2024

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