As we all know, airline travel with a dog or cat can be stressful. Even when you follow all our tips for flying with Fido, you still have to figure out when and where he can take a walk outside of his carrier and go to the bathroom. As of August 2015, if an airport in the U.S. has more than 10,000 passengers per year, it is required by law to provide an accessible animal relief area. These regulations have led to airports adding pet relief stations past security checkpoints to make it easier for travelers with their animals.
A recent study by Upgraded Points ranked the top 10 airports in the U.S. by their pet-friendliness. The study used a 10-point scale that factored in the quality of basic amenities like the relief area, additional pet-friendly features like on-site dog parks, and on-site daycare or boarding facilities. Here are the picks for the 10 most pet-friendly airports in the U.S.
1. John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK)New York City, NY
JFK tops the list with a perfect score of 10 points. Multiple terminals have access to post-security animal relief stations, making it very easy to find one close by. The most impressive relief station is known as “The Wooftop” and is located in Terminal 5 past security. The 4,000-square-foot outdoor rooftop garden patio features artificial turf grass areas where Fido can do his business, and benches and tables with seating for 50 people. In Terminal 4, there is a post-security restroom just for pets. Instead of a toilet, the bathroom has an artificial grass patch with drainage and a replica fire hydrant. There’s a hose to wash off the area, a sink, poop bag dispenser and trash can, too. Terminal 8 also boasts a post-security pet-relief area with a 1,000-square-foot patch of natural grass for your leashed pet to stretch his legs. There are other post-security pet relief areas in Terminals 2 and 7, and a pre-security station in Terminal 1. JFK also has an on-site animal care facility called The Ark at JFK. The first facility of its kind in North America, the Ark’s Pet Oasis offers numerous services including accompanying your pet through customs or to their cargo flight, overnight kennels for boarding, grooming and veterinary services, and pre-flight micro-chipping to track your animals.
2. Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)Atlanta, GA
ATL scored a 9.5 and impressively provides post-security indoor service animal relief areas (SARAs) to accommodate passenger pets and service dogs in every concourse. The airport also boasts a fenced 1,000-square-foot dog park that is located pre-security and features a grassy area, benches and biodegradable waste bags. ATL has an additional pre-security outdoor relief station in the arrivals area at the International Terminal. Pet Paradise Atlanta, located near Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on Park 'N Fly property, provides boarding and doggy daycare, veterinary services and grooming. The pet resort features amenities like a dog bone-shaped swimming pool and a shaded outdoor area for dogs to run and play. As an additional convenience for travelers, 24/7 pickup and drop-off is available by appointment.
3. Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)Phoenix, AZ
The fact that Sky Harbor International Airport comes in third on this list isn’t much of a surprise when you factor in that Scottsdale was recently named most pet-friendly city in the U.S. and Phoenix placed third. PHX scored 9 points for their nine pet relief areas, and we give them bonus points for their fun names. You’ll find the Pet Patch just east of Terminal 2, the Paw Pad in Terminal 3 - Level 1, and the Bone Yard in Terminal 4 - Level 1. There are post-security animal relief locations inside all three terminals, too. Sky Harbor International Airport has additional animal relief areas placed near the PHX Sky Train for four-legged travelers’ comfort: The East Economy Park & Bark near the East Economy parking garage and The Park n’ Play at the 44th Street Sky Train Station.
4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)Los Angeles, CA
LAX scored 8.5 points thanks to its eight indoor dog rest areas. In addition, the airport has three outdoor animal relief stations located on the Arrivals Level, bringing the total number of pet relief stations to 11, more than any other U.S. airport. It also offers the LAX Pets Unstressing Passengers (PUP) program that features 30 trained dogs in red “Pet Me” vests who roam the terminals with their handlers and help provide a less stressful travel environment.
5. Minneapolis-St.Paul International Airport (MSP)Minneapolis, MN
Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport came in fifth on the list with 8.5 points. MSP has pet and service animal relief areas at both terminals. There are three Terminal 1-Lindbergh locations. At Terminal 2-Humphrey, travelers can choose between one outdoor station with real grass or the indoor relief area with faux grass and a fake fire hydrant. Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport also houses Now Boarding, an affiliate of the Animal Humane Society. The company offers boarding, training and grooming services for your pet if you can’t fly with Fido. When your flight lands at the airport, Now Boarding will pick you up at baggage claim and return you to your pet and vehicle for free.
6. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS)Austin, TX
Ranking 6th in the study with 7.75 points, Austin-Bergstrom International Airport has outdoor pre- and post-security pet relief areas, quarterly therapy dog events and a boarding facility on site. The “Dog Walk” is located pre-security and is a great spot to get some exercise in a well-lit space before or after your flight. Your dog can rehydrate at the pet drinking fountain, and you can clean up after him with provided dog waste pick-up bags and trash bins. If you can’t fly with Fido, Bark & Zoom is a pet hotel at AUS where you can board your pet and valet park your car. The facility is open around the clock, seven days a week so you can drop off or pick up your pet no matter your flight time.
7. Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO)Reno, NV
Scoring 7.5 points in the study, this airport has an indoor pet relief area and two pre-security outdoor dog parks. RNO’s outdoor Bark Parks are fenced, have pet drinking stations, and provide clean-up bags and receptacles. The indoor pet relief area is located post-security and is completely enclosed, which is ideal for travelers with cats. Reno-Tahoe International Airport also offers the Paws for Passengers program that brings trained therapy dogs to the terminals to offer furry stress-relieving services.
8. Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL)Dallas, TX
Dallas Love Field Airport earned 7.25 points for their on-site dog park and outdoor and indoor animal relief areas. A Pet Park gives furry friends space to run, play and relieve themselves. A smaller pet relief area can be found at the end of the baggage claim hall on the lower level. The airport also has an indoor relief area post-security.
9. Denver International Airport (DEN)Denver, CO
DEN scored 7 points for its pre-security outdoor relief area, indoor secure relief stations in Concourses A, B and C, and on-site pet hotel. Fido will feel like he’s outside in the indoor relief areas, which have artificial turf flooring, an artificial rock, and murals depicting Colorado’s rugged mountain scenery. If your dog isn’t making the trip with you, book him a room at Paradise 4 Paws. This 25,000-square-foot boarding facility at the airport is open 24 hours every day and offers daycare and overnight stay services.
10. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW)Fort Worth, TX
With 6.76 points, DFW came in 10th, giving Dallas two of the 10 most pet-friendly airports in the country. The airport offers 11 standard pet relief areas, seven located outside the airport and four post-security. The airport also has on-site boarding available at Paradise 4 Paws DFW, a pet resort which is staffed 24/7 and offers a parking area with convenient drop-off service to your terminal and pickup from baggage claim.