Dogs commonly fly on planes in Europe, including being allowed in the cabin on many airlines, so you’d expect the airports to be quite pet-friendly, right? Unfortunately though, if you compare the airports of Europe to those in the USA, you’ll be a bit disappointed.
Here are some tips on travelling through European airports to keep in mind when flying with your dog in Europe, including the best dog-friendly airports in Europe.
Are Dogs Allowed Just on a Leash?
Firstly, don’t always assume that dogs are allowed to walk around the airports in Europe just on a leash. You’ll see this happen at many airports, such as in France and Italy. However, before entering the airport, check for any signage about dog rules.
At the airport in Riga, we were allowed to fly with our dog in a carrier bag in the cabin, but he needed to also be in the carrier bag when we entered the airport. Check out my photo of the sign at the entrance. I haven’t seen such signs at other airports, but it’s likely to be at some. Of course this doesn’t apply to service dogs.
Are There Pet Relief Areas?
Despite having flown multiple times with my dog in the cabin in Europe, for a long time I never heard of pet relief areas. These areas are quite common in airports in the USA. They are areas set up for dogs to do their business, whether inside the terminal building or outside the buildings.
Even better, many of these are located airside of security, ensuring that pets can relieve themselves immediately before the flight or while transferring between flights. Often their location is disclosed on the airport website, or else there is signage, just like for human toilets.
However, designated pet relief areas generally don’t exist at European airports, not even outdoor ones, despite the many dogs that fly. Perhaps this is because many flights within Europe are quite short, and flights with transfers aren’t as common?
However, hopefully this will soon be changing, with a number of pet relief areas opening during recent years at airports in Europe, see below. I’ve also included a few recommendations plus tips, for the closest alternative options at European airports.
Recommended Airports in Europe
Helsinki Airport (Finland)
Helsinki Airport, the largest airport in Finland, was the first European airport I heard of to open a pet relief area, similar to those in the USA. There are two pet relief areas at this airport, both of which have been located with long-haul passengers in mind.
Firstly, there is one outside Terminal 2, the terminal used for non-Schengen and long-haul passengers. The pet relief area is close to the terminal’s main entrance and includes artificial grass and signposting as “Pet Relief” (in English). Secondly, inside the terminal and past security, there is a second pet relief area near Gate 51. Both pet relief areas are open 24 hours.
Istanbul Airport (Turkey)
In 2019, flights in and out of the new Istanbul Airport started operating. The airport is the hub for Turkish Airlines and has all the facilities you’d expect for one of the busiest airports in Europe.
The airport is also quite pet-friendly. As well as a special check-in counter for those flying with pets, there are also pet rooms available. Located in the Departures area after security, I’ve been told they are upstairs near the IGA Lounge, or just follow the dog signs.
The pet rooms have artificial grass for your pets to do their business, plus running water and pet bowls. I’ve heard reports there are even treats available, if you get lucky!
With Turkish Airlines flying to a huge list of destinations, the airport is a comfortable spot to transit while flying with a dog.
Palma de Mallorca Airport (Spain)
I initially discovered that the Palma de Mallorca Airport on the popular Spanish island has a pet relief area through Instagram.
On this website it mentions there are two pet relief areas. Both are fenced and provide drinking water, as well as being somewhere to walk and toilet your dog, possibly off-leash. The first is on the ground floor near Exit A, while the second is part of the 2nd floor garden terrace. The airport website also mentions the two “dog toilets”.
Neither website makes it clear whether the pet relief areas are before or after security. In any case, the majority of the flights operating from Palma de Mallorca Airport are short-haul flights to other Schengen countries, not the flights where a pet relief area would most come in handy.
Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport (Italy)
The Olbia Costa Smeralda Airport is one of three airports on the island of Sardinia, off the coast of Italy, and in 2019 became the first Italian airport to have a pet relief area.
The spacious pet relief area is located past security, handy for a last minute stop before boarding a flight departing the island with your pup. As well as fake green grass, the well equipped areas has bags, facilities for washing up and a water trough.
Barcelona-El Prat Airport (Spain)
Another airport where I’m certain there’s an option for dogs is Barcelona-El Prat Airport, in north-eastern Spain. It’s the very first airport that I flew out of with my dog in Europe.
Fortunately I made a lucky discovery, that later came in handy when I transited at the airport before a 3.5 hour flight to the Canary Islands. Inside the security area of Terminal 1 just next to the McDonald’s, is an outdoor area complete with a coffee shop and a bark-covered garden bed.
Okay, the area is mainly for smokers, and it’s not the most private area or designed for dogs. But if you’re discreet your dog can do their business outdoors there in a pinch.
Notes on Other Airports in Europe
Unfortunately, at other airports in Europe there aren’t any decent options for pets, including some airports where there are rumours of pet relief areas.
What About Schiphol Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)?
One airport that I previously heard had a pet relief area was Schiphol Airport near Amsterdam, in the Netherlands. Inside the terminal building, behind security, there’s an outdoor area with fake grass called the Airport Park. It’s located above Pier D in Lounge 1, in the area for European flights.
Unfortunately, though, I have recently been told that this area is currently closed. Plus, even when it is open, pets are expressly forbidden from the area. That’s probably because of people using it for their dogs to do their business!
What About Frankfurt Airport (Germany)?
Another European airport that some travellers mistakenly believe has pet relief areas is Frankfurt am Main Airport in Germany. Which would be terrific, considering the high number of transiting passengers at the airport, plus it’s the main hub of Lufthansa, which has a great reputation for flying pets.
However, Frankfurt Airport instead has an Animal Lounge. It’s used only for animals flying in cargo, whether a layover or just the departure and arrival point. If you’re instead flying with your pet in the cabin or as excess baggage (and collect your pet in between flights) and transit through Frankfurt Airport, it’s not possible for you to use this area.
For pet relief, you’ll need to head outside through security, assuming you have time during your transit and the relevant paperwork. I still haven’t visited this airport, but I’ve heard that your best is area east of Terminal 1 Concourse C.
Grassed Areas at Other Airports in Europe
The majority of other airports I’ve visited with my dog haven’t had any areas suitable for dogs to relieve themselves inside, but they’ve usually had grass just outside the terminal or within a 1-2 minute walk.
My usual recommendation is to firstly check-in for your flight, then pop back outside with your dog, before heading back inside and going through security.
I’ve personally checked out the following airports and can give them the thumbs-up:
- Czech Republic – Václav Havel Airport Prague
- France – Marseille Provence Airport
- France – Paris Orly Airport
- Greece – Athens International Airport
- Italy – Catania–Fontanarossa Airport
- Latvia – Riga International Airport
- Malta – Malta International Airport
- Romania – Bucharest Henri Coandă International Airport
- Spain – Tenerife South Airport
A Warning about Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (France)
Unfortunately, the place where I most needed access to a pet relief area was at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (or Roissy Airport), prior to flying across the Atlantic with my dog in the cabin, an 8 hour plus flight. And of course I had difficulty finding access to anything suitable, at least near Terminal 2A, where I was flying from.
Now, Charles de Gaulle Airport is the second busiest airport in Europe (after Heathrow Airport and narrowly edging out Amsterdam Schiphol Airport) and it’s gigantic. It has three terminals: Terminal 1, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, with Terminal 2 alone larger than most airports. (Check out the map.)
Unfortunately, outside of Terminal 2, at least the western end near Terminal 2A, we simply found expanse after expanse of bitumen and concrete.
We eventually spoke to an information desk, and the lady suggested that we take the free shuttle train to Terminal 3. I believe there’s some grass near Terminal 3 (close to the nearby hotels – I’d spotted some from our taxi) and perhaps Terminal 1.
I’ve also more recently heard that there’s grass outside of Terminal 2G, but that’s not connected to the rest of Terminal 2 and requires a shuttle bus. However, by this time we were cutting it fine for taking a shuttle and we ended up finding some weeds in one carpark.
So, if you’re flying through Charles de Gaulle with a dog, double check which Terminal and be prepared for a long mission to find somewhere for your dog!
You May Also Like
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- Flying with a Pet in the Cabin in Europe
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44 thoughts on “How Dog-Friendly Are Airports in Europe?”
hi there, we are trying to fly with our small dog to Nice from LAX. with a 5 hour stop over in Sweden. We are trying to research if there is a dog relief area at the International Airport there.
Do you know?
I haven’t been to the airport in Stockholm, but I would expect there isn’t a dog relief area. I would head outside and find some grass, also just stretch your legs.
You’ll pass through immigration when you fly into Sweden, then it’s almost a domestic flight to Nice, as it’s within Schengen, so it shouldn’t take too long to re-enter for your next flight. Plenty of time to exit during a 5 hour stopover.
I flew out CDG and they had a outdoor smoking area at the end of the terminal I was flying delta to MSP. So 9 hr flight and because she was able to pee 5mins b4 boarding we had plenty of time and she did great. So Infirst look for pet bathrooms then I look for outside smoking areas. but I’m flying Zurich to Lax a 12hr flight in may and idk how we will do that one. I’ve never used potty pads but I better train her on them. I’m flying business class right next to first so I really need to fin a viable solution for onboard bathroom use for her.
Thanks for the tip Casey, I’ll keep that in mind. Such a long flight would be tricky. Luckily my dog has always held on without complaints, so I’ve never had to resort to pee pads. The longest he went was actually a ferry not a plane, because he refused to go on the bare ferry deck. Wishing you all the best on the flight!
Thank you for this post! I will be flying with my dog from Athens to CDG and then on to the US. My layover in CDG is 12 hrs and I don’t believe I will be able to clear customs due to Covid-19. I must find an area for my dog to relieve herself. Through this post (so helpful, thank you!) it seems that a great option for me would be to use the outdoor smoking area that you found. It sounds like you were flying back to the US also. Were you in terminal 2? Thank so much for any other advice.
Hello! Did you happen to find a place for your dog to go potty during your layover?
I am planning to fly with transit stop in CDG, I wouldn’t be able to clean security area. If I have to go from one terminal to another to change flights, will I have to take a bus no matter what? My idea was that if I have to take a bus, I will have to go outside and my dog can do his business right next to front dog, he just need some type of fresh area. Do yoy think ill be able to?
Alla – I haven’t previously transited at CDG, but looking at this handy website (https://easycdg.com/airport-guide/travel-between-terminals-move-around-paris-cdg-airport/), I believe you have to take the bus between terminals, not walk. My concern though is that there are likely no grass areas where you get on and off the bus – my experience of CDG is that there is virtually no grass, except if you head over to the hotels. Definitely try and do this and speak to the staff, they should be understanding. As a back-up, would your dog go on a “puppy pee pad” inside the restrooms? (I know my dog would never do this, but is quite good at “holding on”.)
Adding to your list, Lisbon Airport has a good grassy area right in front of the arrival area. As the airport is not very large, for those on a connecting flight can go out for a quick pee.
Frankfurt International has grass areas only close to the rent-a-car areas. For those with a bit more time, a 10 min walt towards the Lufthansa office, which has a good grassy area is worth.
Dusseldorf International in Germany has a very little grassy area next to the parking lots in the arrival area.
Thanks for sharing Cristina!
I’m thinking of taking Lufthansa back from Rome to Seattle thru FRA in September, and would have a 1 hour 45 min layover. Would that be enough time to get to the Lufthansa office and back in thru security? I do hope the European airports get it together about pet relief areas! We have homes in the US and Italy and would like to take our dog with us back and forth. Between American Airlines not allowing pets in cabin and Lufthansa severely restricting pets plus under seat carriers to 8 kg, it leaves only United and Delta as options (both quite reasonable and friendly with in cabin pet policies.)
I would check with the airline for their recommended stopover time. The airport in Helsinki now has pet relief areas, I hope other European airports follow suit.
This is such a helpful post! I’ve found that so few international airports have clearly articulated pet policies. I want to travel abroad with my dog once this pandemic is over, but it’s so hard knowing what to expect. This was immensely helpful to me.
Hi Shandos –
The CDG info is really helpful. For years, I’ve traveled all over Asia and Europe with my lab-pointer mix, and next month we finally return home. Unfortunately with the Covid of Things, I do not have the option to fly her under the plane as per usual – airlines are short-staffed, and because of airport closures, my 9 hour flight is now more like 18. I’m working with my airline to get her on as an ESA, but worry that they may say ‘non’ due to her size. Hopefully I can make some magic happen and then it’s just a matter of figuring out a potty break with my 1.5 hr layover at de Gaulle. Fingers crossed!
Wishing you all the best for your journey home, it’s especially tough at the moment! It would be great if more airports in Europe set up pet relief areas, but hope my tips on CDG help. In particular, check which terminal you are flying in and out of, because it varies greatly at CDG between terminals.
I’m planning to bring my cat from Macau to Edinburgh, transit in Paris CDG. Due to Covid-19, i believe my and my cat will need to go separate from CDG. Is there any reliable pet agent that can help me pick up from cat from the airline then transit in other airline? Thank you
Sorry, but I’m not familiar with pet agents in Paris. Best of luck with your trip!
I have a pup stuck in cdg because they can’t scan his microchip. Do you know anything about the quality of care the pup is getting while being stuck there?
I’m sorry but I’m not across it, it’s best to speak to the authorities.
Take the “CDGVAL” free shuttle train toward the Holiday Inn Express and get off to walk the dog then hop back on. When asking for the train say “C-D-G-Val” Its a walk!
Thanks for the tip William!
Has anyone had experience with Frankfurt or Munich airports for pet relief areas? I’m researching which route to take to export my pet (to Slovakia) after Covid restrictions lift and the choices for connections will be Charles de Gaul, Frankfurt or Munich. Any advice would be appreciated. This will be little Lucy’s first time on an airplane (in cabin) and I’m trying to get as much information as possible in advance.
Sorry but I don’t have experience with either of these airports and flying my dog. Often the only option is to head outside, but that would mean going through security. Feel free to join my FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/dogfriendlytravelrtw) and ask.
Thank you for the info on CDG airport. I am going to have a short layover there with my dog and I’m trying to map out my route to include a bathroom break for him. Flying delta and finnair. Does anyone know which terminal would have the best choice for a potty break? Going out of the airport is not an option due to the short layover.
Thank you for your helpful blog posts. I will be taking my Yorkie from SFO to Frankfurt then onwards to Athens soon. It will be her first long-haul flight. While I believe she will be able to hold it for the duration of the 11 hour flight, if she does soil her carrier it doesn’t seem like it would be that big of a deal unless I am missing something??? Wipes + poop bags + extra fuzzy carrier liner=no big deal? Am I missing something? I am most worried about her feeling claustrophobic in her carrier for that long….she is CHILL as can be on my lap but we have had even short flights where she will trash about in her carrier for about a minute trying the break free (then she relaxes). My questions are (1) have you ever used Rescue Remedy or Dramamine when your dog is on a long haul flight (thinking maybe it would be useful on hour 9?) and (2) have you ever snuck your dog out of its carrier to sleep under a blanket on your lap?? We are flying Lufthansa business class and I have no idea how willing they are to look the other way. Thank you!
It sounds like you have everything prepared for accidents. Most people I’ve spoken to have been surprised at their dogs holding on, rather than needing to deal with something.
With regards to the length of flight, luckily the longest flight my dog has had in cabin was about 8 hours, and he slept most of that flight. We’d also earlier had train trips that were nearly as long. I haven’t used Rescue Remedy or Dramamine. I would only use it if you already use it with your dog, or trial it beforehand. Perhaps also speak to your vet for advice.
I also haven’t snuck my dog out onto my lap on planes, just on trains, where it has been more lax, except for when briefly boarding one flight where Schnitzel was unsettled. The attitude differs between different airlines – perhaps check in advance or be very discreet – if your pup stays quiet they will be unlikely to notice or object.
Wishing you all the best!
Thank you so much for this blog and the reply!
I thought it might help others if I followed up here. We took our 10 hour flight and with early check-in, boarding and disembarking it was about a total of 13 hours. Our dog did not pee. When we arrived for our connecting flight, we had three hours. Our dog would not pee on the marble airport floor nor a pee pad (she is not trained on pee pads). We took our last 3 hour flight, and when we arrived and got our luge we went outside and she finally peed. She held it for 19 hours!!! It turns out….it’s grass or nothing for our little princess. LOL. In all seriousness, I was worried but my husband reminded me that she had 3 hours between flights to let it go if she really needed to, and she chose not to. She did not go #2 for 26 hours, which was less surprising given that she was given a very small bit of food while we were on the road. Lastly, a friend recommended Trazadone to relax her if we thought she was getting anxious, and we were really glad we had it. The Lufthansa crew would not bend the rules and allow me to take her out of her carrier even with a harness and leash on that was tethered to my seatbelt, so she was a bit claustrophobic about hour 5. Good luck, all!
Hello! I have a healthy layover in Frankfurt airport prior to a 9 hr flight to the states. No doubt, getting outside for a pet relief break is a top priority. Although we will be traveling with the pet passport, I’m concerned about exiting/re-entering the airport. Can you share any advice here? Do you know who could confirm this shouldn’t be an issue? Maybe I’m overthinking it but I’d hate to exit and later learn that we can’t get through security. Many thanks, M
It’s probably best to speak to your airline. They can tell you what ticket you’re booked on and whether you can exit. Additionally, Covid restrictions may plan a role.
We are flying from MSP to CDG and then connecting to NICE with our two dogs at the end of August. All the information listed here is super helpful and thank you to everyone for your answers. My main question is…where is the smoking area located on Terminal 2E? Hoping to take the dogs there after the long flight instead of hopping on the shuttle to the holiday express. I just rather not leave the airport.
Thank you ~ Andrea
Thanks Andrea! Sorry, I don’t know where the smoking area is, but I’m pretty sure it’s shown on the signs inside the terminal.
I am traveling to from the U.S. to Malta with my small dog, Wowie this winter. The first leg will be an 8 hr one to London. There’s a layover at Heathrow and the next leg is to Malta. Is there a pet releif area in the Heatheow? If not, can we go outside for a quick bathroom break? If we do that, will security allow us back into the airport?
Joanne – Generally dogs can’t fly into Heathrow except as cargo, I’m guessing you have a service animal? As such, I’m pretty sure there’s no pet relief area. It’s been awhile since I’ve been to Heathrow, but I believe you need to pass through security and immigration to go outside.
I’ve flown into CDG many times with my two small dogs. Flights are 8-9 hrs in the air. I take care to not feed them day of the flight and to restrict their water intake a little. (Vet’s advice). They can miss a meal! We find the indoor pet relief area pre-departure (most American airports now have them…we fly out of Atlanta and Detroit often, with good pet rooms) and the doggos are fine during the trip. We restrict their water until an hour or so prior to arrival time in Paris. We always arrive at terminal 2E (largest and very central) and once we get out of customs with luggage, we head to the nearest exit (porte) to outdoors right there on arrival hall level. Smokers go there as well. It’s just concrete parking and walkways, but the dogs do their thing there okay. This is no help for those of you connecting and unable to exit customs, I realize. Check airport websites; they usually list their pet relief areas.
Thanks for sharing Kristy!
There’s definitely one at Olbia airport (Sardinia-Italy), near gate A3. About 30sqft. of shrubs and 30sqft of artificial turf.
Thanks for sharing!
Hi! We recently traveled through Amsterdam with our pet and there is a TON of greenspace but none that people can have access to. It was a nightmare for us because we asked every person (it felt like) who worked at the airport if we could go out to one of the green spaces but they were locked off completely. I would not recommend this airport to anybody traveling with a pet!
European airports are difficult when transiting with pets, hopefully the situation improves in coming years.
Hello Shandos, thank you so much for this forum about traveling with pets.
We will travel in April from Mexico city via Amsterdam to Vienna, Austria. We have booked the flights already, and the airline confirmed already our request to bring a dog and a cat in the cabin. I did a lot of research already but what I could not find out yet is, if our pets will be checked already at Amsterdam Airport by a veterinarian or only at the final destination, Vienna. We have 2.5 hours for changing planes in Amsterdam, both flights are with KLM. Do you have any idea? Would appreciate a lot… Thank you, Martin
Martin – The main place your pets’ paperwork will be checked is at the check-in counter, before you board the flight. (Similar to Covid paperwork until recently.) A lot of travellers to Europe are surprised that pets are often not checked when you arrive in Europe. And only a few countries in the EU have a veterinarian check pets – Portugal and Ireland for pets arriving from outside of the EU, plus Malta for all pets, that I can recall.
I believe you’ll go through customs when you arrive in Amsterdam, and the second flight will be a Schengen-zone flight (like a domestic flight). When going through customs in Amsterdam, search out the customs officer and show them your pets’ paperwork. They should stamp the certificate, although it’s not usually an issue if this is missed, at least for going to Austria.
You’ll show the paperwork again for the second flight. The check-in staff in Europe are more used to seeing EU pet passports (used by EU residents), but explain you just flew in.
Thank you so much Shandos for your quick reply, appreciate a lot :-).