Finding pet relief areas at U.S. airports is easy with our state-by-state listings of outdoor (pre-security) and indoor (post-security) pet and service animal relief areas (SARA).
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. Outdoor pet relief areas can range from no-frills grassy areas to fenced-in “pet parks” with all the amenities of a fully equipped dog park.
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.
While many pet relief areas are merely small patches of fake grass in hidden corners of terminals, others are pet parks with real grass, faux fire hydrants and space to run and play. Airports across North America now offer post-security pet relief stations, including Chicago O’Hare International Airport’s Pet Relief Room complete with artificial grass covering, miniature fire hydrants and pop-up sprinkler systems to wash away liquid waste into a drain; and Detroit International Airport’s restroom for dogs with two patches of fake and real grass, and a sprinkler system to eliminate waste into drains below the grass.
Effective Jan. 11, 2021, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) announced changes to the Air Carrier Access Act that impacts emotional support and service animals for air travel. Anticipated changes include, but aren’t limited to: airlines will recognize emotional support animals as pets rather than service animals, forms may be required 48 hours prior to travel, the number and type of service animal a passenger can have, and other limitations. For more specific information please refer to the rules set by DOT or to find out their pet and service animal policies and if you have any questions regarding animals on flights, please contact your airline directly.
All pets should be brought to the security checkpoint in a hand-held travel carrier. Never place a pet in the X-ray tunnel. The X-ray at the security checkpoint is used to screen passengers’ personal property and carry-on luggage only. Become familiar with the screening procedures: Remove the pet from the carrier just prior to the beginning of the screening process; Place the empty travel carrier on the conveyor belt so it can be X-rayed; Carry the pet or use a leash during the screening process. A TSA officer will give the pet owner’s hands an explosive trace detection swab to ensure there is no explosive residue on the owner’s hands. Once the screening process is complete, owners should return the pet to the travel carrier at the re-composure area away from the security checkpoint; this location helps ensure the safety of the pet, as well as other passengers.
TSA provides tips on traveling with pets through airport security
If you are the owner of a small pet, your pet can travel with you in the cabin of the aircraft. Before this, the pet must be screened by TSA officers at the security checkpoint.
Taking your human on a plane: what every pet needs to know – TSA
Information on the TSA’s regulations regarding pets going through airport checkpoints.
Tips for traveling with small pets through the security checkpoint this holiday season – TSA
Traveling through the security checkpoint with your pet can be easy when you know what to expect.
A guide to in-terminal airport pet relief stations
Information on indoor and outdoor pet relief areas at airports in the U.S.
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Animal Relief Areas at Airports – Alaska Airlines
Check here for a list of animal relief areas at airports served by Alaska Airlines.
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Tips on travelling through European airports to keep in mind when flying with your dog in Europe, including the best dog-friendly airports in Europe.
Australia: Perth Airport
Service Animal Relief Areas are located at Terminal 4 – ground floor, opposite check-in (behind car rental desks); and Terminal 1 – ground floor, behind check-in (enter via corridor next to check-in desk 40).
Finland: Helsinki Airport
Pet relief areas are located outside, near the entrance to Arrivals hall on floor 1, next to the bus station; and inside, Gate 51 – Non-Schengen area.
Japan: Osaka International Airport (ITAMI)
The dog-specific relief area is located in the pick-up and drop-off area of the airport.
Turkey: Istanbul Airport
Pet rooms are located in the Departures area after security, upstairs near the IGA Lounge, or just follow the dog signs.
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