When you choose to travel with your pet by air, your number one priority is making sure the experience is a happy and safe one for your furry kid. You spent a great deal of time researching the best pet friendly places to stay for your pooch, and you looked into pet friendly activities and restaurant options available at your destination. However, you're still concerned about whether your dog will be comfortable and safe during your flight. There are many people out there sharing your same concerns; according to the American Animal Hospital Association, approximately 76 million cats and dogs travel with their owners each year. Airports have to take notice of this compelling statistic, and many are taking great strides to accommodate pets and their human travel companions.
We’ve made a list of the 10 pet friendliest airports in the United States. Whether they provide designated potty break areas and dog kennels or roll out the red carpet for pets, they make air travel easier, more fun, and more comfortable for those who like to be on the go with their furry kids in tow.
1. Atlanta: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
Hartsfield-Jackson's off-leash dog park in Atlanta made it a shoe-in for our list. The park is 1,000 square feet of fully-fenced running and playing space, complete with flowers, grass, rocks, and park benches. This is the perfect place for pups to exercise, socialize and do their business. Hartsfield-Jackson is the world’s busiest airport, and plenty of pets come through its doors. The airport created the park to better cater to its pet passengers.
2. Detroit: Detroit Metropolitan Airport (DTW)
In 2014, Detroit Metropolitan Airport debuted its brand-new pet relief area at its McNamara Terminal. Delta Airlines passengers can bring their pets to an indoor potty spot, equipped with real and artificial grass patches, a dog-friendly flush button that rinses liquid waste, and bags for solid waste.
3. Philadelphia: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
PHL features a generous seven pet relief areas, which include mulched surfaces, a bench for tired pet parents, and a faux fire hydrant, just for fun. Each fenced-in area offers between 250 and 600 square feet of space for pets to stretch their legs. A pet waste bag dispenser and trash can are available at each potty spot.
4. Phoenix: Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
Sky Harbor has three pet relief areas: the Pet Patch, the Paw Pad, and the Bone Yard. Here, pets can relieve themselves, stretch their legs, explore, sniff, and have a drink of fresh, cool water. Each area provides mitts for waste cleanup.
5. St. Louis: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
Lambert-St. Louis provides its puppy passengers with two very cool pet rest and relief areas. Each features 400 square feet of fenced-in, off-leash space perfect for pets to stretch their legs, exercise, and burn off energy. There are even park benches, trash cans, and decorative fire hydrants. Plastic mitts are provided for cleanup.
6. Reno: Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA)
Charmingly called “The Bark Park,” the Reno-Tahoe International Airport’s pet area was designed for the comfort and convenience of passengers and their pooches. There’s a pet restroom and fresh drinking water, and Mutt Mitts are provided for easy cleanup. The pet area thoughtfully features a canopy to shelter pets and their people from sun and inclement weather.
7. San Francisco: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Francisco International Airport offers two nicely landscaped, fully fenced pet relief areas, which feature everything needed to refresh travel-weary pets. Drinking water and bowls are provided, and the garbage areas feature Mutt Mitt dispensers for easy and tidy cleanup. Passengers can access the airport’s pet areas any time of day or night – they’re available 24/7. To find the potty spots, just follow the friendly paw prints!
8. Los Angeles: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
LAX has a whopping total of 11 pet relief stations – more than any other airport in the U.S. There are three outdoor stations, and, in 2016, the airport added seven new indoor stations to its single previously existing indoor station.
LAX also boasts the country’s largest airport dog therapy program. Called PUP, which stands for “Pets Unstressing Passengers,” the program provides passengers with access to therapy dogs to help them alleviate the stress that can come with traveling long distances. LAX’s PUP program has 55 therapy/volunteer dog teams, which roam the airport in search of anyone in need of a cuddle from a furry friend.
9. Denver: Denver International Airport (DIA)
Denver International Airport has literally gone to the dogs – in the best possible way. The airport features a private indoor doggie restroom on every concourse, complete with artificial turf, an artificial rock, and a charming mural. Waste bags, sinks, and soap dispensers are also provided.
Denver International also features a brand-new, in-airport pet resort, where traveling dogs can stay in comfort and luxury. The resort boasts private suites, flat screen TVs, massage therapy, obedience training, and special bungalows for the feline set.
10. New York: John F. Kennedy Airport (JFK)
Not to be outdone by Denver International, JFK airport has rolled out the welcome wagon with all the bells and whistles for pet travelers. In 2016, the airport debuted “the ARK,” the world’s first-ever privately-owned pet terminal. The 178,000-square-foot terminal accommodates big pets, little pets, and all pets in between – there’s even a resting area for horses and livestock. Animals arriving in New York are brought directly to the facility and kindly given a meal and a bath. Passengers from any airline can make use of the ARKS’s Pet Oasis kenneling and handling services, around the clock, any time of year.
For those who love traveling with their pets, it’s exciting to see airports adapting to meet the needs of their four-legged companions. With pet travel on the rise, this trend is likely to continue. Airports are becoming more pet friendly every day, so check in with those you'll be traveling to and inquire about their pet services.
TripsWithPets is the premier online pet friendly travel guide -- featuring online reservations at over 30,000 pet friendly hotels & accommodations across the U.S. and Canada. When planning a trip, pet parents go to TripsWithPets for detailed, up-to-date information on hotel pet policies and pet amenities. TripsWithPets also features airline & car rental pet policies, pet friendly activities, a user-friendly search-by-route option, as well as pet travel tips.