Dogs On Amtrak: How To Ride The Rails
When Amtrak changed their pet policy in 2016, adventurous pet lovers breathed a sigh of relief. Now, dogs and cats can join in on scenic train rides throughout the United States. Plus, taking the train is better for the environment (less CO2 emissions for the win!). Here’s all the information you’ll need so you and your pet can ride the rails.
Are dogs allowed on Amtrak?
Amtrak allows dogs and cats who are 20 pounds and under on trips of up to seven hours.
Amtrak Pet Policy – The Low Down
As with any policy, there are guidelines and restrictions when it comes to booking your pet on Amtrak. Let’s break it down:
Your pet must:
- Be at least eight weeks old.
- Be odorless, harmless, and not disruptive.
- Be up to date on all vaccinations.
- Travel in a pet carrier.
- Travel as carry-on (they are not allowed as checked baggage!)
The pet carrier:
- The maximum size for pet carriers is 19″ long by 14″ wide by 10.5″ high.
- The pet and carrier cannot weigh more than a combined weight of 20 pounds.
- The carrier may be either hard or soft sided.
- The carrier must be leak proof and well ventilated.
- Your pet must be able to sit and lie down without touching the sides of the carrier.
Making a pet reservation:
- Reservations are limited to one pet per customer.
- Your pet carrier counts as one piece of carry-on baggage.
- Pets are only permitted in Coach Class (no pets are allowed in sleeping cars, Business Class, or food service cars).
- Reservations with pets are limited to seven hours total, including transfer times between trains on multiple-segment trips.
- Pets cannot be booked with multi-ride tickets, Thruway Connection Services or with unaccompanied minors.
Onboard the train:
- Once onboard the train, place your pet carrier under your seat, not under the seat in front of you. This is true for all routes except on Amtrak Cascades trains, where you can put your pet carrier on the floor in front of the seat next to you.
- Pets must remain inside their carrier while in stations and onboard trains.
- Certain routes designate a specific Coach car for pets (see below), while others will allow you to ride in any Coach car.
How much does it cost to bring a pet on Amtrak?
The pet fare costs $26, or 800 Amtrak Guest Rewards points.
Are there Amtrak line restrictions?
Pets must adhere to the following:
- Pets will be allowed in all cars other than first class and café cars of Acela trains.
- You cannot travel with pets in Canada on the Adirondack line.
- Pets are not allowed on Maple Leaf and Amtrak Cascades.
- Pets are not allowed on Auto Train, Keystone Service, Pennsylvanian, San Joaquins, Capitol Corridor Pacific Surfliner or Thruway Connecting Services.
The following routes have designated Coach cars for pets: Amtrak Cascades, Carl Sandburg, Illinois Zephyr, Illini, Lincoln Service, Saluki, Pere Marquette, Wolverine, Blue Water, Hiawatha and Missouri River Runner.
How to book your pet on Amtrak
There are three ways to book your pet on Amtrak.
- Visit Amtrak.com.
- Call a reservation agent at 1-800-USA-RAIL.
- Visit a staffed station.
Once you’ve decided on a route and date, book your pet as soon as possible. Pet reservations are made on a first-come, first-served basis, and there are a maximum of eight pets allowed per train (not including service animals). They sell out quickly, so be sure you’ve got your ticket!
Remember: service animals are not considered pets, and are welcome on all Amtrak services.
Booking your pet on the Amtrak website
The Amtrak website makes it easy to book your pet. Here’s how.
Step 1: Visit Amtrak.com and select your route.
Step 2: Routes that accept pets will display a Pets Welcome symbol on the lower right hand side (see photo). Select your ticket (remember, pets are not allowed in First Class) and click add to cart.
Step 3: The add on page will allow you to add a pet to your trip. Click the + sign to add your pet (only one pet allowed per passenger).
Step 4: Passenger information and check out.
If you’re leaving from a staff train station, check in at the ticket office no later than 30 minutes before departure. They’ll look over your pup and provide you with a Pet Release and Indemnification Agreement to sign.
If the train station is unstaffed, the conductor will confirm pet eligibility and provide you with the document to sign.
You’re free to sit anywhere you like within Coach, unless your line has a designated pet car (see above), and even then, you can choose any seat within the car.
Once you’re on board the train, and typically after departure, a ticket agent will come around to collect tickets. Hand them both your ticket and your pet release form.
Click here for more pet travel tips.
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