John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City is the most pet friendly airport in the US, according to a ranking compiled by Upgraded.
Pet relief stations are popping up “post-security” thanks to a federal regulation requiring airports (that serve over 10,000 passengers a year) to have pet relief areas in each terminal for service animals.
Upgraded’s ranking did not award any points for simply complying with service animal portion of this federal regulation. Some airports have extended the use of pet relief stations to law enforcement dogs, emotional support animals, and transit pets, and the ranking noted these.
The rankings awarded airports with indoor relief areas a maximum of five points based on quality of amenities. For other pet-friendly amenities, Upgraded awarded a maximum of 4.5 points. An example of this includes dog parks that are fully-fenced in areas with water fountains and lots of space to run.
Another factor was onsite boarding or daycare facilities, which earned .5 a point. If passengers are not traveling with their animal, but want the flexibility to drop them off right before a flight and pick them up as soon as possible, these facilities offer 24/7 services and a shuttle to the terminal.
JFK topped the list with a score of 10. Terminal 5 houses a 4,000 square foot outdoor garden patio (aka, the “wooftop”) that’s open to all passengers and their pets. Located after security, the large terrace features tables and chairs with seating for up to 50. The pet relief area is located outdoors, at the Arrivals Area North End, across from gate 28.
The Ark at JFK provides animal care and veterinary services for pets, horses, birds, livestock, and exotic animals. Located off of the runway, the ARK provides 24/7 access, ensuring the safe handling and efficient delivery of ALL of your animals.
JFK Terminal 8 has a service animal/pet relief area located post-security. In addition, American Airlines has installed a pet relief area at the terminal’s departures level that includes a 1,000-square-foot patch of natural grass for pets to stretch their legs before or after a long flight. Terminal 4 has a post-security 70-square-foot pet bathroom complete with artificial grass with built-in drainage, a replica fire hydrant, wash sink, bag dispenser, and waste receptacle.
Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport ranked second and scored a 9.5.
To accommodate guide dogs and passenger pets, ATL airport provides indoor post-security relief areas in every concourse.
The airport also features a 1,000-square-foot dog park located pre-security. This fully fenced-in park offers biodegradable bags along with benches. An additional pet relief area is located on the arrivals level of the International Terminal as well. Meanwhile, Pet Paradise offers an onsite 24/7 boarding facility.
Rounding out the top ten below are:
3. Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX): Located in Arizona, score: 9
4. Los Angeles International Airport (LAX): Located in California, score: 8.5
5. Minneapolis St.Paul International Airport (MSP): Located in Minnesota, score: 8.25
6. Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS): Located in Texas, score: 7.75
7. Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RNO): Located in Nevada, score: 7.5
8. Dallas Love Field Airport (DAL): Located in Texas, score: 7.25
9. Denver International Airport (DEN): Located in Colorado, score: 7
10. Dallas/Ft. Worth International Airport (DFW): Located in Texas, score: 6.75
Upgraded added that over 75 of the airports it looked at scored a 0 in its rankings, basically the opposite of pet-friendly.
“These airports only had pre-security pet relief options, with most being a patch of rocks. And they definitely don’t have additional amenities like a dog park with real grass,” the report stated.
Separately, the South China Morning Post listed four airports across the world with the best airport lounges.
The list included: John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City, US; Osaka International Airport, Japan; The Air France-KLM-Martinair Cargo Animal Hotel at Amsterdam Airport Schiphol, The Netherlands; and Frankfurt Airport in Germany.
Pet service areas are handy for the jet set pet traveller. Airports can be quite stressful, now imagine going through all that stress but add a dog along with the dog’s suitcase, and possibly the cage. It’s not easy. So having all these added bonuses such as pet lounges, pet relief areas, patios are a good way to get you and your pet to relax and unwind before or after the flight.
As more pets and service animals make their way into airplanes, I think we will see pet relief areas upgrading their offerings to help make our furry friends as comfortable as they can during stressful airport visits.
Check out Rocky’s experience with a doggy airport bathroom below.