Flying with animals is more common than you’d think: pets and service dogs travel with their owners, and more and more rescue dogs are brought to Finland from abroad. Travelling with a dog or cat is now even smoother than before as two new pet relief areas have been opened at Helsinki Airport. The pet toilet has been designed with dogs in mind, but other pets are also welcome.
Relief for thousands of travelling pets
“Around 10,000 dogs pass through Helsinki Airport every year. Passengers with animals have been sending us messages asking where pets could be taken when they need to relieve themselves. Long flights and transfers at the airport can be very stressful for an animal if it can’t do its business. We want to offer all passengers an exceptionally good customer experience, so we decided to build two pet relief areas at Helsinki Airport,” says Eveliina Vironen, Customer Experience Specialist at Finavia.
Pet relief areas are not yet a common sight at Northern European airports, whereas in the United States, for example, transportation authorities require accessible relief areas for passengers travelling with service animals.
“The welfare of a pet or assistance dog is very important to the animal’s owner, and a pet toilet can be a deal breaker when the owner is deciding which route to fly,” Vironen says.
Pet toilets at the main entrance of T2 and in the non-Schengen area
One of Helsinki Airport’s pet relief areas is outside the terminal, and the other one is inside, in the secure area. The indoors relief area is in the non-Schengen area of T2, at gate 51A–D. The toilet is in a separate, closed-off space. The outdoors relief area is next to the main entrance of T2, separated from pedestrian traffic.
“The pet relief area is easy to clean, and it’s as natural as possible for pets to do their business,” says Mari Järvenpää, Business Manager, Interior Architect SIO at Recover Nordic, the company responsible for designing the area.
In practice, the pet toilet is an area of a couple of square metres built on top of a platform covered with artificial turf. Liquids will run through the turf into a basin and into the drain. The turf is easy to rinse with a shower after use. Solid matter is collected into a baggie and deposited into a waste bin – just like when you walk your dog out on the street. To maintain a high level of hygiene, Finavia regularly cleans the pet relief areas.
Passengers who are allergic or afraid of dogs have also been taken into consideration, so there is no need to worry.
“The indoors pet toilet is in a closed-off space, and the outdoors relief area is located in a calmer spot away from the walkway to the entrance, so it’s easy to move to and from the toilet without disturbing other passengers,” Järvenpää says.