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Pet relief area at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) — T2

The last time I flew in to San Francisco on Virgin America, the airline was based in SFO’s International Terminal, so I reported on how to find the pet relief area located between the International Terminal and Terminal 1. Since then, Virgin America has shifted operations to Terminal 2 (or “T2”), so I had a whole new pet relief area to look for. (There are three, total, at SFO — still on my list is the last one, between Terminal 3 and the Main Hall.)

I started with the SFO website, specifically the SFO airport map (look at the interactive map and click on “services” and “Animal Relief Areas”), which states that there’s a pet relief area in “Courtyard 3 of Terminal 2, Arrivals/Baggage Claim Area, pre-security.” Much good that’ll do me, I scoffed, remembering how I’d never seen a sign to “Courtyard 1” when I was looking for the International Terminal’s pet relief area — but sure enough, as I walked to the terminal from the concourse, there was a sign pointing me to Courtyard 3:

No pet relief area sign at this point -- you have to know that you're looking for Courtyard 3, but this is still a big improvement over the International Terminal

And when I arrived on the lower level, I found signs for the “Animal Relief Area”:

You’ll see two of these signs near Carousel 1. Follow either of them and exit the terminal. You’ll immediately see painted paw prints on the ground, which lead you to the pet relief area:

You can see the white paw prints in the foreground; they lead around to a gate on the far side, under the junction of those two big struts

It’s not a bad spot — it’s larger and more pleasant than the pet relief area near the International Terminal, and when those vines on the fence get going, it’ll be more pleasant still.

On the positive side: There are poop bags and a trash can; there is a water bowl and a hose to fill it; it’s fully fenced; and despite all this verbiage, it’s close to the terminal and easy to find.

On the negative side: There is no bench, so you have to juggle your dog and her carrier and your luggage; it is grass-less, and there is no grass alternative nearby; and while gravel is a workable alternative for some dogs, only half of this area is gravel. The rest is concrete, which I find a surprising and unwelcome choice. Chloe, an obladi-oblada kind of dog, doesn’t mind concrete, but a lot of dogs do.

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.


  • Gwen

    How long of a layover would you I say I would need in order to get from and back to my Virgin gate?

  • Oh, gosh, Gwen — It all depends on how long the line is at security. Take a look at it as you’re about to leave the secured area — or even ask a TSA person how long the lines are — and decide then. (If you have TSA-Pre, too, your algorithm will be different.) On a day of normal traffic, I set aside an hour to depart a secured area, find the pet relief area, and return through security.

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