I am, as you know by now, a woman obsessed with airport pet relief areas. Every U.S. airport has one, by law, and most of them are located outside the airport, on the “land” side of security. That means that travelers with working service dogs and travelers with pets have to exit the airport with their companions to locate and use the pet relief area — all well and good if that airport is your final stop, but a nail-biting challenge if you’re merely pausing between flights. An increasing number of airports are installing pet relief areas on the “air” side of security, and I’m happy (ecstatic!) to report that there are two more to add to the list.
JFK’s T5 (JetBlue’s Terminal 5)
I’ve praised JFK’s T5 outdoor pet relief area in the past, but JetBlue has outdone itself with its new “T5 Rooftop” space. Located across from Gate 28 (here’s a terminal map), it’s a well-designed outdoor space incorporating tables and chairs, foliage and bits of lawn, and the “T5 Wooftop” pet relief area.
Here’s what the outdoor terrace area looks like:
Here’s the pet relief area from the outside, with our carry-ons leaning against the planter:
You get the idea. I was thrilled, and our future travel plans involving NYC will be weighted heavily towards JetBlue. Those pictures were from November 2015; imagine my joy when we passed through Chicago’s O’Hare airport in March of this year, and learned about the new indoor pet relief area in Terminal 3.
Chicago O’Hare (Terminal 3)
More often than not, I fly through Midway, so the latest word I had on pet relief areas at O’Hare was this useful reader’s report from 2012. At that point, ORD had two pet relief areas, both located outside. They still exist, and were joined in 2014 by another outside pet relief area at Terminal 2. But now there’s a fourth pet relief area at O’Hare, and it’s on the air side of security.
It’s located in “the Rotunda area of Terminal 3,” everyone who writes about it declares, and for us, arriving on United at Terminal 1, it was a heck of a long walk. Here’s a map of O’Hare, and it’s a particularly nice one: Click the “off” button next to “Accessibility” to “on,” and you’ll get directions to the various pet relief areas (enter your arriving gate number, and the map will estimate how long your walk will take).
I hadn’t yet found that map when we arrived in Chicago, so we schlepped from sign to sign, seeking Terminal 3 and, as we neared our goal, the mysterious “Rotunda.”
Inside, you’ll find a couple of sinks on the right, and then, beyond, a couple of raised platforms of artificial turf. They are, in fact, two of the deluxe Porch Potty products, so when your pup is finished, you press a button and a couple of sprinkler heads appear and rinse things off.
The pet relief area was clean and attractive, and I suspect that if Chloe’s need had been urgent, she would have used it. It has a water source, obviously, but I’m not kidding when I say that a bench would have been a welcome addition. This is, after all, a bathroom, and I’m deeply reluctant to put anything on a public bathroom floor. That meant that we had to keep our shoulder bags draped around our top halves while holding Chloe’s carrier off the ground and simultaneously extracting her from it and putting on her leash. It was precarious with two people, and would have been a major pain if I’d been alone. (Rest your gear on the sinks, I can hear you say, and I would, except that these sinks are hands-free, and turn on at the slightest invitation.)
That is, however, my only gripe with this pet relief area, and hopefully it’ll soon be addressed. Blessings on the Chicago Department of Aviation for addressing the needs of the traveling working dog (and also of the traveling pet) and her owner.
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.