Ottawa Airport With a Dog Review

It was time I did this. An Ottawa Airport with a dog review. I mean it’s our hometown airport. You’d think I would have done this already! But nope… so first, a bit of background information because it’s actually pretty neat!

At the turn of the millennium, the Ottawa Airport Authority announced plans to build the new Macdonald-Cartier Airport to replace the one in use since 1960.  It was built in phases with a second, adjacent terminal built first to meet the demands of increased traffic. Then the new terminal itself was built – ahead of schedule – and opened on October 12, 2003.

It came in UNDER BUDGET without cutting corners and on time – something that never happens!

By March 13, 2008 any signs of the old airport were gone. Leaving a small, clean and highly efficient airport gleaming in its place.

Montecristo at the Ottawa Airport in his Sleepypod carrier. Ottawa Airport With a Dog Review

Hanging out at the YOW!

It really is hard to find a more pleasant and easy to navigate airport.  Yes, it is small for a Nations Capital … but it is a winner.  Don’t believe me? Here are some recent awards:

  • The 2011 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award for Best Airport in North America went to Ottawa Airport. It also placed second in the world for the 2-5 million passengers category.
  • The 2010 Airport Service Quality (ASQ) Award for Best Airport in the World for the 2-5 million passengers category went to Ottawa Airport.
  • In February 2010, Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport was recognized by customers for its excellent customer service in the results of Airports Council International‘s (ACI) Airport Service Quality (ASQ) program. For the fifth consecutive year, Ottawa placed second overall for worldwide airports that serve between 0 and 5 million passengers. In 2008, 118 airports from around the world participated in ASQ.
  • Along with Air Canada, the airport was the joint winner of the 2010 Ottawa Tourism Award for Tourism Partnership of the Year in recognition of the co-operative work done in promoting Air Canada’s non-stop flight between Frankfurt and Ottawa.
  • Also in 2010, the airport was presented with three Airport Revenue News Best Airport Concessions Awards. In the Small Airport division, Ottawa was named the winner in the following categories: Airport with the Best Concessions Program Design, Airport with the Best Concessions Management Team, and Airport with the Best Overall Concessions Program.

For most bipeds the only thing missing would be more duty free shopping. But on the whole the airport is a wonderful design with a lot of architectural interest and even water features and art.

dog at Ottawa airport - award sign.

Something for Ottawa to be proud of for SURE!

The best thing for those of us flying to the US is that Ottawa has one of the eight Canadian airports that have a United States border preclearance facility.  This is a wonderful perk! Every time we fly to the States we clear US customs right here in Ottawa, leaving us free to enter the US once we land at our American destination. This saves a great deal of time, since it is rarely crowded or busy.

Macdonald-Cartier Airport is part of Canada’s busiest air corridor between Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto, which is commonly referred to as the Eastern Triangle.  The airport is also a gateway for flights to the eastern Arctic via Iqaluit.

Unfortunately, while Ottawa’s airport serves all major North American airlines and has flights to Europe, the Caribbean and many cities to the US, Ottawa remains the largest metropolitan area of Canada, to not serve as a hub for any airline.  This means that all to often we are forced to connect with international flights via Montreal or Toronto.  It is a huge inconvenience to say the least and often an added cost to our trip.

But those of you reading this post want to know how this airport rates in terms of pet perks.  like any Canadian airport service animals are allowed in the terminal.  As for pets, I can only speak from my experience and say that I am often carried around in my carrier with my head sticking out the entire time and no one has ever said a word.

Ottawa Airport With a Dog Review

Ottawa Airport (website photo) Green space galore!

The Pet relief area is across the street from the passenger terminal and is a generous, designated grassed area at the south end in front of the Parkade.  Luckily since the airport isn’t a labyrinth or gargantuan in size it is actually not too difficult to get to if you have a little extra time on your hands.  You will however need to allocate time to go through security again.  We recommend you set aside at least two hours to fully benefit from the large space and make it back in time to catch your connecting flight. In addition remember that in the dead of winter this area is covered by a few feet of snow.  This means that ironically, the pet relief area is only a seasonal perk for spring, summer and fall.

In review: Ottawa’s Macdonald-Cartier Airport is pet friendly by North American standards and easy to manage. The staff is kind and easy going and no one will give you a hard time for traveling with a canine. We give it a 4 paw rating and suggest the following be considered for improvements:

  1. indicate the pet relief area with some signage
  2. provide a fenced in area for some off-leash
  3. provide some seating, a poop bag dispenser and garbage can

They do however, get some serious bonus points for the sheer size of the green space! Ottawa Airport with a dog review will be updated as we visit it more often through the years. This is after all our “home” airport.



4 Comments on “Ottawa Airport With a Dog Review

  1. Happy no one gave you a hard time Monte. How could they with that sweet face… I’m surprised your home city airport lacks in a full service pet relief areas? No poop bags, trash can or a place to sit and relax a minute? Really…no one could shovel the snow in the winter months? They could make it more comfortable and functional for service animals, the working dogs as well as their companions on the job. Pet rights seem to be violated here. 😉 Hopefully one day that will be the standard in all airports around the globe. Thanks for another great post! XO

    • Indeed Michelle, but to be frank Ottawa airport is one of the only Canadian airports to even have a green space. For that we are grateful. Most large airports do not. Admittedly the best airport ever to date is Miami airport with its little white picket fence, grass, poop bag dispenser, waste bin and more. BUT I am still waiting for the day I find an airport that has a pet relief area INSIDE the security zone. THAT is my biggest pet peeve on the subject. AS for winter … not sure what they could do. The path I am told is cleared, but that does not change that there is snow on the grass. Would kill the grass to expose it. So for us, being trained of the fake grass (pee pad) is still your best option! I would love to see a standard established!!what a great idea!

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