Pet Travel Made Easier: Top U.S. Pet Friendly Airports

Top US Pet Friendly AirportsWhen planning a trip with your pet that involves air travel, ensuring a happy and safe flying experience for your four-legged flier is your top priority. You've spent ample time researching the most pet friendly hotels that will best suit your furry companion, but you're concerned about their comfort and safety during the whole process of flying. According to the American Animal Hospital Association, approximately 76 million cats and dogs travel with their owners each year and airports are starting to take notice.

The following airports have made the most strides in pet travel by opening up designated areas for animals to take a potty break, get water, and stretch their legs. If your route includes any of these stops, these pet areas provide a great way to comfort and reconnect with your pet once you get to your destination or while waiting for a connecting flight.

1. Atlanta: Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)
We blogged about the grand opening of Hartsfield-Jackson's off-leash dog park last month and we definitely had to include it in our list. The 1,000-square-foot fully-fenced Poochie Park includes flowers, grass, rocks, and benches to set the scene for dogs to sniff around, get a bit of exercise, and do their business. Being the world's busiest airport, it has seen its fair share of pets pass through and wanted to better cater to their four-legged passengers.

2. Houston: George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)
Not only does George Bush Intercontinental have four designated pet areas, it also offers the only onsite kennel managed by an airline (Continental Airlines) in the United States. The kennel provides 1,100 square feet of space for runs and exercise pens, day kenneling, overnight kenneling, and grooming.

3. Philadelphia: Philadelphia International Airport (PHL)
PHL has 7 (count 'em, seven) pet relief areas that include a mulch surface, a bench, and a faux fire hydrant. Each fenced-in area ranges from 250 to 600 square feet and also includes a pet waste bag dispenser and trash can.

4. Phoenix: Sky Harbor International Airport (PHX)
The Pet Patch, the Paw Pad, and the Bone Yard are Sky Harbor's three designated pet-friendly zones. These areas offer a place for pets to get relief, wander and sniff, as well as drink fresh water. Mitts for clean up are provided.

5. St. Louis: Lambert-St. Louis International Airport (STL)
Fire hydrants are just one of the features at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport's two outdoor pet rest areas. Animals are allowed to play off-leash in the 400 square foot gated spaces and also include park benches, trash cans, and plastic mitts for cleanup.

6. Reno: Reno-Tahoe International Airport (RTIA)
The Bark Park at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport was designed to make pet travel more convenient. It provides a restroom, fresh drinking water, and Mutt Mitts all under a canopy to protect travelers and their pets from the weather.

7. San Francisco: San Francisco International Airport (SFO)
San Francisco International Airport offers two pet travel relief areas that are landscaped and fully fenced. They come equipped with drinking water, bowls, and garbage areas with mutt mitt dispensers. The areas are available to passengers and their pets 24 hours a day.

8. Los Angeles: Los Angeles International Airport (LAX)
LAX boasts two areas to make everyone's pet travel companions a bit more comfortable. The Pet Park comes equipped with a dog house, plastic bags, and a trash can. There is another pet rest area for convenience, although pets must be on a leash.

9. Honolulu: Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
Travelers' beloved companions get to paws in paradise at Honolulu International Airport's fenced-in, grassy area under palm trees. Fresh water, plastic bags, and trash cans are available for service dogs, pets in transit, and working airport animals.

10. Denver: Denver International Airport (DIA)
Denver International has opened an exercise area where pets can walk around and relieve themselves after a long flight. The space is enclosed and wheelchair accessible.

11. MiamiMiami International Airport (MIA)
If you head to South Beach for spring break or head to South Florida for fashion week, you may want to bring your pet along for the fun. Miami has loads of pet relief areas, and it has installed two fun doggie parks as well. Head to Concourse E and Concourse J for fenced-in yards and fire hydrants.

MIA pet friendly tip: All pet relief areas at the airport are outfitted with both grass and concrete.

12. San Jose: Mineta San Jose International Airport:
If you’re flying into San Francisco’s neighbor, San Jose, you will also have access to some pet friendly facilities. While Terminal A has a designated outdoor pet relief space, Terminal B has a fenced in area with two faux fire hydrants.

SJC pet friendly tip: The Terminal B pet relief area has artificial turf and adjacent patch of real grass.

13.  New York:  JFK Airport (JFK)
Last but certainly not least, is JFK airport in New York.  This airport is integrating a number of tremendous enhancements to make JFK the poster child for pet friendly. The Ark at JFK is the airport's luxury pet terminal. Some features inlcude an Equine & Livestock Export Center and Aviary In-Transit Quarantine, along with a 20,000 square foot pet resort for dogs and cats. The resort will have a splash pool and flat screen TVs for dogs and climbing trees for cats. It will also offer massage therapy and pedicures for both, as well as webcams so pet parents can keep and eye on their pets. A 24 hour pet health clinic is also a feature of the Ark.  Features of the Ark will be rolled out gradually.

It's wonderful to see airports taking a page from pet friendly hotels and finding ways to make pet travel less worrisome and much more welcoming for both pets and their people. This trend is bound to continue, so check in with the airports you'll be traveling to and ask about their pet services.