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Pet relief areas at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH)

I arrived at IAH last week on a Continental flight from Seattle, and landed at Terminal C. I wasn’t traveling with Chloe, for once, but I had enough layover time to check out a couple of pet relief areas. According to IAH’s web site, there are pet relief areas at all but one of the airport’s five terminals (Terminal E is the exception). In reality, however, there is no pet relief area for Terminal C, so ignore those directions — the folks at the Terminal C information desk agreed that the web site was misleading, but handed me an airport map with the pet relief areas marked on it, and sure enough, there was no icon for Terminal C.

I decided first to find the nearest official pet relief area, which is in Terminal D. If you’re arriving at Terminal C, exit to the Baggage Claim level, then follow the signs to the toy-sized Inter-Terminal Train and head to Terminal D. When you arrive, go upstairs. Follow the signs to Emirates airline. Exit the terminal directly across from the Emirates counters. This sign is above the door:

When you emerge, turn right and you’ll find one of Terminal D’s two pet relief areas. As you can see, it’s an unfenced patch of grass. Poop bags are provided.

I didn’t have time to visit the pet relief area at the other end of Terminal D, but I’d bet money that it looks much the same.

Between waiting for the Inter-Terminal Train and schlepping up and down the various levels of the airport, it took a good deal of time to reach Terminal D and return to Terminal C, where my flight to Tampa was departing from. I looked for alternatives. One would be taking the Inter-Terminal Train in the other direction, on a marginally shorter trip to the airport Marriott, which is rumored to have grass around it (aerial maps confirm the rumor).

However, the Marriott is really only about 200 yards closer than Terminal D to Terminal C. As I sadly approached Terminal C’s security point, I was thrilled to see (from the security area’s second-floor windows) a patch of grass outside Terminal C. I spun around and went back downstairs to investigate.

To reach the grass I saw, find baggage carousel 3, exit through the door closest to it, and cross the airport roadway. Though it’s impossible to see in this picture, there really is grass on the far side.

This is a terrible picture -- I promise you there's a strip of grass alongside that sunlit building. This is the view from inside IAH Terminal C baggage claim, next to baggage carousel 3.

Please note that you can’t get back in through the door by carousel 3, so you’ll need to walk a very short distance to a main door located near baggage carousel 12 (you might want to locate this door before you exit the terminal). You’ll also, of course, need to bring a poop bag with you.

Someday I hope to get to the pet relief areas at IAH’s Terminals A and B — when I do, I’ll update this post. If you get there before I do, send me an e-mail and let me know what they’re like!

This post is part of an ongoing series of reviews of airport pet relief areas we’ve visited. To see others, visit Dog Jaunt’s handy guide to airport pet relief areas.

22 comments

  • Adventureweiner

    Thanks for the information. It seems we only fly through this airport on the way to Mexico when we are sans dog but it is good to know. You say it took a “great deal of time” to reach the offical pet relief area at Terminal D. Do you know approximately how long it took you? Thanks.

  • Well, that’s a good question. It took me about an hour and a half to do all the things I’ve described in this post, plus go through the slowest security line I have ever encountered, but if I knew in advance to exit, go directly to the lower level and take the inter-terminal train to Terminal D or the Marriott? Let’s say 15-20 minutes to get to either Terminal D or the Marriott, 2-3 minutes to find the pet relief area, and the same amount of time returning (then add in your dog’s comfort stop and the return through security). Add all that up, and you’re right around an hour and a half after all! You’d save considerable time dashing out to the grass strip I saw outside Terminal C’s baggage claim, certainly, because you wouldn’t have to deal with the poky little train and the walk/escalators on either end of it.

  • Terri

    Hi Alice…so assuming I arrive at Terminal C I should have a short trip to the relief area at carousel 3?

    After that I will have to prepare, but I’m hoping my Continental flight with a Continental connection will be in the same terminal? That would make sense…maybe…in an ideal world. Thanks for all your work!

  • Terri

    Wow, the IAH maps and info on pet relief areas is (as you mention) totally confusing…I suppose the area outside Terminal C baggage is not “officially” designated, although on one of the map pages it does say there is a pet relief area there, on another it excludes Terminal C, and on yet another it just says there are relief areas to the east of all baggage claim areas…wow….but there is, for sure, no icon to lead you on the map to the Terminal C spot (sigh). I will have to take my chances, assuming I arrive at TC and depart at TC, and go to the patch you describe…if not I have approx. 90 minutes to do something else…(Yes, I’m panicking a bit), but I will get over it.

  • Hi, Terri! To be honest, next time I’m going thru Terminal C, I’ll just go outside to the grassy area I described at the end of the post. The official area I found was decent enough, but no better than just that patch of lawn — and much farther away.

  • Jeff

    Our dachshund Bitsy thanks you! This info was invaluable during our layover – we used the grass outside Terminal C. Your directions were spot-on, and it only took 30-35 minutes gate-to-gate (both were in C, security wasn’t packed). Thanks a bunch!

  • Josh

    Our pom thanks u for ur info for terminal c we are outside right now letting him use the bathroom. I thank you for making this site.

  • Josh

    Nope nothing else changed we ended up going out by baggage claim to the right followed a little concrete walkway next to the road and was under a ramp with alot of grass took us 8 minutes to get from gate c22 to their and we got a quick pass thanks to the TSA ladies wanting to see and pet our pomeranian and they let us go in the employee line instead of making us wait in the long line but we had a 3.5 hour layover so we were outside for a hour or so.

  • Ron and lela

    I scoped out the best peeing area for bringing our dog in from out of the country. It worked well and took no longer than going the regular way even counting a long time sniffing.
    After you see the vet at customs and go out with your luggage, take your luggage to the place you recheck it to go on your next flight. Then immediately turn around and go out the exit there instead of going on to the transit TSA screening area with the huge line. Go across the car lanes to the front of the parking garage and take the sidewalk left without going in. In about 100 feet the sidewalk ends and you can step down to a dirt and Weeds patch between the garage and the road. I took a picture but it wont let me put it here. Let fido finally go.
    Then go back in to the same terminal, take the eacalator to the second floor and go through the TSA security entrance to the gates there. Because you missed the epic line at the transit TSA screening you will come out in the concourse by Rubys Cafe at about the same time as the people who didnt go outside to walk their dog.

  • Thank you so much, Ron and Iela! Would you let me know if you arrived in Terminal D or E? Both receive international flights; I think United goes into E, while all other international arrivals (plus United Express) go into D.

  • Ron and lela

    At Houston, if you arrive from abroad, you have to go to the same customs area regardless of which terminal your plane comes in. That is where i described.

  • Thanks so much! I haven’t flown into Houston from abroad, so I wasn’t aware how it works there. Appreciate the clarification!

  • C. Nilles

    Just traveled thru Houston International Terminal C (July 2013) and got my dog down to baggage claim #8 or #9, went outside the door and found a decent sized strip of grass on the left side. Came back in, thank god security was not too long and got myself and dog back to a C gate in about 30 minutes flat. Very please with how the pet relief area is situated at least in Terminal C……

  • Darrel Thompson

    Thank you very much for your time and efforts to supply this invaluable information. We went to Houston in January and could not find the “Pet Relief” area. I’m not positive of the arrival terminal, but could not find the area. We are planning to travel again and IAH will be the connecting port. Have planned the itinerary to allow about three hours between flights this time. We are thankful for this information. According to information I accessed today, flights are arriving at terminal B today. We will see. Thanks again.

  • Thanks, Darrel — I’d love to hear what you find (and if you DON’T find the official pet relief area, whether you were able to find a good alternative for your pup).

  • Jack

    Thanks for this info! The pet relief area is still here! When you exit baggage claim 3, it’s not easily visible because of a wall covering the length, but if you cross the street you’ll find it behind the wall, or turn right outside once you leave baggage claim and there’s a strip of grass on the same side as the terminal. Thanks for the help!

  • Ash

    We just used the pet relief area outside terminal B- doesn’t look much like your other pictures. It’s an unfenced area immediately adjacent to a busy freeway. My pup didn’t like that much. Poop bags provided.

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