A Bald Eagle Went Through a TSA Checkpoint. It Was on a Business Trip.

From a Washington Post story by Hannah Sampson headlined “Yes, a bald eagle went through a TSA checkpoint. It was on a business trip.”:

It’s often a thrill to spot a bald eagle in the wild. But in the airport, it may be a little confusing.

“Man is out here bringing a bald eagle through TSA at CLT Douglas,” one man wrote on Twitter along with a video of an eagle flapping its wings and craning its neck while perched on a handler’s left arm.

Fellow social media users suggested it was an “emotional support eagle” and wondered if it would fly regional carrier American Eagle.

The avian passenger was actually on a business trip. Clark the eagle, from the World Bird Sanctuary in Missouri, had traveled to Charlotte to make an appearance at High Point University, the school said in a tweet. Hatched at the sanctuary as part of a breeding program about 20 years ago, Clark could not be released into the wild like his siblings, according to the organization’s website, and became a “flying ambassador” at special events.

The Transportation Security Administration posted photos of Clark peering toward a camera and demonstrating his wingspan at the checkpoint. Clark, the tweet said, “decided to give his wings a break and fly commercial. His airline notified us and we screened him and his handler.”

The agency added: “Clark is trained to spread his wings, and even showed off a bit during screening.”

A Twitter account run by the sanctuary’s CEO shared the photos and video, and posted a photo of Clark in a hotel room ahead of his university visit, where he flew over the heads of a new class of students. The eagle, alas, does not fly American; he’s a Southwest customer.

“On a case-by-case basis, Southwest Airlines works with reputable animal organizations, such as the World Bird Sanctuary, to make special exceptions to allow the animals to travel in-cabin,” spokeswoman Tiffany Valdez said.

Hannah Sampson is a staff writer at The Washington Post for By The Way, where she reports on travel news.

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