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Pet relief area at Norfolk International Airport (ORF)

I arrived in Norfolk, Virginia (en route to Colonial Williamsburg) feeling like I had a handle on the situation: One resource (notes from a telephone call a couple of years ago) told me that the ORF pet relief area is on the extreme right side of the departures building, as you look at it, and is marked with a sign; and another resource (Southwest Airlines’ collection of airport info) told me that “There is a dirt area near crosswalk A on the main terminal side.” One or the other of those leads — or perhaps even both — would be valid, I assumed.

Sadly, I was wrong. Norfolk is a confusing airport to navigate, since the Main Terminal (the “departures building” mentioned in that phone call) is connected to the flight concourses, but separated from the Arrivals Terminal (i.e., baggage claim and passenger pick-up) by a long skybridge. There were no signs in either terminal to the pet relief area, and none of the many crosswalks was labeled. It is not at all apparent which side of the Main Terminal is the front, but at no extreme right side of any of the contenders did I find a marked pet relief area, or, indeed, an area that would serve as a pet relief area.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that ORF is awash in attractive grassy spots, so as long as you have a supply of poop bags, you and your dog need never locate the official pet relief area.

Here’s what you’ll do if you’re changing flights in ORF: Your flight will arrive on either Concourse A or Concourse B [ORF airport map (PDF)] and you’ll walk towards Baggage Claim. Do not cross the skybridge! Well before you reach it, you’ll find yourself in a large, central, square area with escalators on either side leading down to “Passenger Check-in & Ticketing.”

There's another escalator opposite this one, leading down to the Southwest ticketing counter

Take the escalator down to the ground floor, walk outside, and turn either right (if you took the escalator towards American/United/Delta/US Airways) or left (if you took the escalator towards Southwest). Just past the end of the building, you’ll see a central courtyard (the skybridge runs overhead) that your pup will find irresistible.

The view of the central courtyard as you walk alongside the Main/Departures Terminal (the Arrivals Terminal is in the distance, and when you get to the corner, you'll see the skybridge overhead)

If, instead, you walked over the skybridge to the baggage claim area and are now looking for a bathroom break for your pet: Walk out of the terminal through the door next to Baggage Carousel #1, and cross the airport roadway to the same central courtyard.

Baggage Carousel #1 is behind you, and the Main Terminal is in the distance (the skybridge is overhead)

Alternatively, turn left after you exit the baggage claim area and walk down the sidewalk to this patch of grass:

This spot is at the extreme right as you look at the Arrivals Terminal, so maybe someone got their wires crossed -- but there's no sign, and no poop bag dispenser

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.