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Perks for pets, convenience for flyers: Your guide to airport pet boarding facilities

Oct. 03, 2021
7 min read
traveling with dogs
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Editor’s note: This post has been updated with new information.

My sister is a dog lover. She treats her Yorkshire terrier and Chiweenie (a Chihuahua-Daschund mix) so well that I want to come back as one of her dogs in my next life. When she travels, she usually leaves her dogs with her next-door neighbor. But not everyone has that option.

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Now that travel is starting to recover, you may want to take a trip -- but not with your pet. If leaving your pet with a neighbor isn’t an option, consider leaving them at boarding facilities located at or near an airport. These places make it easy to drop off your animals quickly and fly. Some even offer parking or a ride to your terminal.

Here are some of the facilities and the services they offer.

Related: A comprehensive guide to traveling with pets

Pet Paradise

(Photo courtesy of Pet Paradise.)

This pet boarding facility has locations at Jacksonville International (JAX), Orlando International (MCO), Hartsfield-Jackson International (ATL), Charlotte-Douglas International (CLT), Houston Hobby (HOU) and George Bush Intercontinental (IAH) airports.

Each offers 24/7 access, webcams to check on your pet, indoor/outdoor boarding suites, grooming, daily playtimes, plenty of space to romp, auto-fill water bowls and veterinary services if needed. Overnight rates for dog suites start at $40, kitty condos at $25, depending on the location.

Related: The most expensive plane ticket I’ve ever purchased was a $14k rescue mission for my dog Watson

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Paradise 4 Paws

(Photo courtesy of Paradise 4 Paws.)

If you’re flying out of Chicago O’Hare International (ORD), Dallas/Fort Worth International (DFW) or Denver International (DEN) airports, you can drop off Fido or Miss Kitty for day care or overnight boarding 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Dogs can relax in suites that come with a nightly tuck-in service, up to four hours of playtime daily, regular potty breaks and access to play area webcams. They can also hang out in the doggy lounge or indoor play areas with in-ground, bone-shaped splashing pools. Rates range from $55 a night for a junior suite up to $135 for the top-dog suite, which features a full-size human bed with plush bedding, a flat-screen TV, an in-suite webcam and a nightstand with a 4-inch x 6-inch bedside photo frame available for a family portrait.

Cats get their own bungalows with a litter box and water fountain. When it’s play time, they can enjoy the Adventure Jungle™, which features climbing trees and a large aquarium to gaze at fish. Bungalows cost $40 a night for deluxe, $45 for executive and $50 for the presidential, which comes with custom perches, a personal window perch and an aquarium.

Available services include spa and grooming care, dog training and veterinary care. When it comes to pick up and drop off, Paradise 4 Paws can meet you and your pet curbside at the airport or pick you up at your house or another location.

You can also pay to park at Paradise 4 Paws, starting at $14 a night, with a free shuttle to your terminal. When you land, a shuttle can pick you up at baggage claim. If it’s after hours, you can take a cab to pick up your pet and be reimbursed.

Related reading: Get your paws off my miles — How the Points Pups earn points

Now Boarding

Photo courtesy of Now Boarding
Photo courtesy of Now Boarding

Located at Minneapolis-St. Paul International, this boarding facility not only cares for dogs and cats, but also rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, gerbils, hamsters, mice, rats, birds and snakes on a space-available basis. There are 96 dog suites, 34 double-level cat condos and 15 critter spaces.

Dogs get a choice of either a daily, 15-minute individual walk or play session with a staff member, or a 40-minute group play session. Each dog has access to an outdoor run and gets three potty breaks a day.

Cats get access to a dedicated room surrounding an atrium where they can climb, play, jump or take a nap. Services include regular daily litter box cleanings, 30 minutes a day of cuddle time and regular interaction with cat lovers on staff. For anxious cats, Now Boarding also offers a special pheromone treatment (a scent that mimics that of a mama cat) in its condo.

Other services include animal grooming, dog training, day care, short stays and veterinary care if needed. And for $13 a day, you can park at Now Boarding and get a free on-demand shuttle ride to the airport 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Overnight rates for dogs start at $43, depending on size. Cats start at $25 a day and critters are $22 a day. Plus pet daycare is also available.

The Pawington

A doggy suite. Photo courtesy of the Pawington

If you’re flying out of San Francisco International Airport (SFO), this is the place to board your pet. New pets get their first day for free after taking a pet temperament test. The facility has trained staff on site 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Pet services include grooming and a lake to play in. Pets needing special care are also accommodated.

Dog suites — which start at $69 a day — have daily maid service and linen changes, room service for up to three meals a day (either personal pet food or house kibble), oral and/or liquid medications administered for free, a free bath with a seven-day stay and a pet-stay report card.

Cat suites also have daily maid service, multiple play levels, comfortable bedding, private litter boxes and a separate, independent ventilation system. Suites cost $54 for regular and $72 for luxury, which includes: at least two daily, one-on-one, 10-minute play sessions with a handler; carpeted walkways and door-high skyways for active cats; a glass door with privacy blinds; plush bedding; a hideaway den; a 28-inch LED television; and a private webcam to check on your cat.

The Pawington has 25 first-come, first-served free parking spaces, but doesn’t offer a shuttle service to the airport. A cab starts at around $12 each way; a Lyft or Uber will set you back about $17, depending on the time of day. The lot has 24-hour security and surveillance cameras.

Bottom line

Pet owners in the United States spend a whopping $106 billion on their animals in 2020, according to the American Pet Products Association (APPA), up by nearly $9 billion from 2019. That spending covered food, supplies, over-the-counter medications, veterinary care, live animal purchases and other services.

Being able to drop off your pet before boarding your flight and picking them up after landing is a great convenience for occasional and frequent flyers alike.

Related: The best credit cards for pet expenses

Featured image by (Photo by @nikcanvas via Twenty20)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.