Since May 2009 the Department of Transportation (DOT) has required all airlines to make sure there are service animal relief areas (SARAs) at airports, and escorts to those relief areas, for any passenger traveling with a service animal. As a result, airports everywhere have created and expanded animal relief areas that are open to all pets as well as service animals. Most animal and pet relief areas are located outside the airport terminals.
As of August 2016 federal regulation requires airports that service more than 10,000 passengers a year to establish at least one service animal relief area (SARA) inside each terminal. Although the requirement was designed to accommodate passengers traveling with service animals, pet owners and handlers working with law enforcement dogs also stand to benefit. Specially constructed facilities range from small, utilitarian spaces in obscure areas to entire rooms with finish materials that match nearby human restrooms. The areas must also be wheelchair-accessible and close to airline gates so service animals can access them regardless of whether they’re departing or arriving.
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