Nov 22

Airports – Animal Relief Areas for Dogs

San Diego International Airport inside "secured passengers only area" animal relief bathroom.

San Diego International Airport inside “secured passengers only area” animal relief bathroom. Photo is the property of Morgance Ellis and not available for copy

Be sure to locate all the “animal relief areas” at the airports you and your dog will be visiting during your air travels before you travel. I have included a website that is kept updated on the most current information. http://petfriendlytravel.com/airports

Animal Relief Area Options:

Many airports do not have an “Animal Relief Area” inside the “Secured Passenger Only Area”. Should that be the case you have two other options; take your dog to a designated “animal relief area” outside of the terminal or, if you have taught your dog how to use pee pads, you can take them to the nearest bathroom and use a handicap stall. Please be sure to dispose of pee pads that have been property placed in a sealed trash bag in the correct trash receptacle. If you have the time between flights and are physically able to get to an outside animal relief area, it is a great way to give your service dog and yourself some much needed exercise. Do be aware that if you and your service dog leave the restricted “Secured Passenger Only Area” unescorted by an airline employee, airport employee or TSA officer, you will be required to go back through the TSA security checkpoint.

Be aware that some dogs find the cleaners used in the animal relief area’s inside the “Secured Passenger Only Area” very offensive and will not use them. Having other options available is a must in this circumstance. I highly recommend teaching your dog to use pee pads. Train them to use pee pads in different places, and on different ground and floor surfaces.

Support Services for Disabled Passengers Traveling with Service Dogs:

All airlines provide passengers with disabilities, support services through their company or arrange support through another company to get you and your service dog to an animal relief area should it be necessary, whether inside or outside the terminal. You are the one responsible to arrange for this service before you fly and remind the flight crew well ahead of your landing time, to alert the appropriate personal so they are waiting for you when you and your service dog depart the plane. They will take you and your dog on a motorized cart to the “animal relief area” whether it is inside or outside the terminal and you will not have to go back through the TSA security checkpoint. TSA “Passenger Support Specialists” service is usually the company that will help you and your dog. This service is a must when you have a connecting flight to catch. Be sure to book your flights keeping this in mind so you can leave enough time to get your service dog to an “animal relief area”.

Be sure to include some form of training for your service dog so they are comfortable riding a motorized cart in the event you must use one during your travels.

Check All Your Special Arrangements a Few Days Before Your Departure Date: 

it is important if you have arranged special service assistance, that you check a few days before your departure date to be sure all arrangements have been made and are in place, on the correct flight dates, times and locations. Be sure to retain the name, and phone number of the person you spoke with, their job title and department in which they work. Ask for the same information of a contact person at your destination(s).

TSA “Passenger Support Specialists”

TSA provides on-the-spot services for disabled passengers. They will meet you at the airport curb and take you through the security screening process if needed, and escort you and your service dog to an “animal relief area” whether it is inside or outside of the terminal. Again, you must contact them before your flight to arrange this service.


Animal Relief Area’s Inside the “Secured Passenger Only Area”

Airports that have inside “Animal Relief Area’s” usually only have one. So be sure to have a map and find out exactly where it is located and how to get to it from your arrival gate. For connecting flights this is really important as many airport are very large, and may require you to go in and out of TSA security checkpoints.

Sometimes your gate will be changed without notice. If a flight crew member announces there is a gate change during your flight for either your arrival gate or connecting flight, be sure you have a map of the airports “animal relief areas” and ask for assistance if you need it before the plane lands.

DOT ACAA Health & Safety Requirements for SD’s on Flights Longer Than 8 Hours:

ACAA regulations can now ask passengers traveling with service dogs on flight longer than 8 hours in duration, to provide documentation or verbal assurance that your dog will not relief itself on the plane or can do so in a way that you are able to it clean up without it being a health hazard to others. Remember to always factor in the possibility of delays. Ellie and I have been delayed for up to 4 hours on the run-up taxi way, while on-board with a 6 hour flight still ahead of us.  Always be prepared for the unexpected before you fly.

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