Good news for pet lovers. And by the way, for dogs and cats too.
Finland has taken a step forward in converting its transport infrastructure into pet friendly, with the installation of two 'toilets' for animals at Helsinki Airport.
One of those relief areas is located at the main entrance of Terminal 2 (used mainly for international flights) and the other one is inside the non-Schengen area.
According to Finland´s main airport operator (Finavia), over 10,000 dogs travel with their owners through Helsinki airport yearly. Finavia expects that the installation of these toilets will make smoother travelling with a dog or a cat. The pet toilets have been designed mainly with dogs in mind, but other animals are also welcome to use them.
Flying with animals is more common that most people think. Pets and also service dogs or assistance dogs (for example those trained to help persons with disabilities) often travel with their owners by plane. In addition, there is an increased number of rescued dogs which are brought to Finland from other countries.
A passenger request
"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.
Where are they located exactly?
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.
How do they work?
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 walking with the dog out on the street. To maintain a high level of hygiene, the pet relief areas are cleaned regularly.
"Passengers who are allergic or afraid of dogs have also been taken into consideration, so there is no need to worry," Finavia says.
“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 explains.