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How to Travel on Amtrak Trains With Pets

Photo of a girl and her dog before they board the Amtrak train.

“Can my dog come?”

If you’re a pet owner, you’ve had to ask that question a million times. Whether you’re grabbing drinks with co-workers or going to game night at your friend’s, it’s tough to leave your furry friend behind.

And if you want to travel with Jake Gyllenpaw or Meowly Cyrus? Well, you’d better be prepared to navigate a labyrinth of pet policies. Everywhere you look it’s red tape, restrictions and flat-out confusing. It’s enough to make you want to curl up with your cat and not go anywhere at all.

Luckily for you, Wanderu is here to help! After going through Amtrak’s pet policy with a fine-toothed Furminator, we’ve assembled our findings into a concise, easy-to-follow guide that answers all your pet related questions.

So read on below, and wave goodbye to worry when traveling to your cat or dog-friendly destination!

Does Amtrak allow pets on board?

Yes, Amtrak allows pets onboard. Some routes, like the Amtrak Cascades, Carl Sandburg, and Illinois Zephyr, even have separate cars for those traveling with a pet. On the opposite end of the spectrum, some services, like the Canadian portion of the Maple Leaf’s route, don’t allow animals at all.

Amtrak has a full list of which trains allow pets, but the vast majority of their services allow pets on board with a few conditions.

What is Amtrak’s pet policy?

Top of a doggo's head

For starters, Amtrak only allows dogs and cats on board. If you have a pet snake, you’ll need to find another way to transport it. (Snakes on a plane? 🐍✈️) If you have a pet crocodile, consider getting rid of it entirely. It’s terrifying and why the neighbors aren’t accepting your “boozy brunch” invitation.

Second, according to Amtrak’s pet policy, your pet must remain in a pet carrier for the entirety of your trip. As much as other passengers might appreciate saying “Hi” to your perky puppy, Amtrak employees will not be so thrilled. 

Be prepared for some size restrictions: Amtrak requires that your pet carrier (with your pet inside) weigh less than 20 pounds. The carrier itself must be leak proof, well-ventilated and big enough that your pet can lie down without hitting the sides of the carrier. Your pet carrier can be at most 19x14x10.5 inches – which is the standard size for cat and small dog carriers. Chances are, if it’s labeled as “airline compliant,” it’s Amtrak compliant as well. They have what’s known as a carry-on pet policy, since you’re, y’know, carrying them on.

Note: Your pet’s carrier counts as a piece of luggage you can bring on the train, so if you bring your pet, you’ll be allotted one less suitcase. 

Is there a limit on the length of train trip I can take my pet on?

If you’re worried about keeping your outdoor cat cooped up in a carrier all day, Amtrak has you covered. Pets aren’t allowed on trips over 7 hours, which means that little Sprinkles won’t need to wait too long to tinkle.

In addition, passengers should know that pets are not allowed on trips that require train transfers. So if you want to bring your dog on a weekend getaway, be sure to buy a direct trip.

Do I need to buy a special Amtrak pet ticket?

You do not need to buy a special type of train ticket for yourself, but there is a $26 pet fee (per train ride, so a round-trip pet fare would cost $52). Unfortunately, even the cutest passengers don’t ride for free. Amtrak only allows one pet per passenger and five pets per train, so make sure you book early. 

To add a pet fare, first book a regular Amtrak ticket through Wanderu, after which you have a couple of options. One is to go to Amtrak and click “Modify Trip” in the top right-hand corner. From there, you’ll be able to add your pet and pay the necessary fee. Alternatively, you can call Amtrak customer service at +1 (800) 872-7245, and pay over the phone.  

One additional note: Don’t book your pet on a Business Class car. Pets are only allowed in Coach Class on Amtrak, so your pup won’t be able to take advantage of all that extra leg room. And before you ask, no, stacking six cats on top of each other and dressing them in a suit and tie will not help you skirt the system.

What is Amtrak’s pet release form?

Amtrak’s Pet Indemnification Form is the form you must fill out prior to bringing your pet on board the train. The main components of it are as follows: 

  1. You are fully responsible for your pet and any damage your pet causes for the duration of your trip.
  2. You vouch that your pet is healthy, up to date on all its vaccines, and has not had a serious illness in the past six months.
  3. You agree that if your pet causes any damage, you will pay Amtrak back for the damage.

Simply print the form out at home, fill it out and sign it, then show it to the conductor when they scan your ticket.

Can I bring multiple pets on Amtrak?

Sadly, no. Amtrak only allows one pet per passenger.

Is my pet allowed out at the train station?

Your pet must remain inside of its carrier when you’re at the station, in addition to while you’re onboard the train.

What is the Amtrak service animal policy?

Service animals are allowed on Amtrak trains, and are not restricted to bags or carriers. That said, you can’t buckle them into the empty seat next to you — even service animals are required to stay on the floor, regardless of size. Fortunately, you do not need to book a pet fare to bring a service animal on Amtrak, as service animals do not fall under Amtrak’s pet policy

Amtrak’s biggest restriction on service animals is what exactly defines them as a “service” animal. According to Amtrak, a service animal must be trained to perform a specific task that helps someone who is living with a disability. Emotional support animals, for example, are not classified as service animals by the rail company, and must therefore abide by the same restrictions as any other regular pet. 

While Amtrak does make accommodations for service animals on their locomotives, the company hasn’t forgotten that they are still animals. If you bring a service animal, it is assumed that it will be well-behaved for the duration of the trip and must be kept on a leash or harness.

If you can’t keep the animal under control, Amtrak reserves the right to boot you from the train. Amtrak specifically lists barking too loud and not being housebroken as potential reasons a service animal may be removed.

Is there anything else I need to know before traveling with a pet?

In general, just make sure your pet is well behaved. While Amtrak does allow pets on trains, they also reserve the right to remove passengers with pets in the event that the animal is out of control. 

While you are not allowed to take your pet out of its carrier at any point during the trip, there is an exception: If your train is stopped for long enough to take your pet out for a bathroom break. In that case, passengers should know that making it back on the train by the time the train pulls away is their responsibility. Amtrak abides by Pirate Code: “Those who fall behind get left behind.”

Otherwise, just enjoy the ride! Even if your pet can’t stick their head out the window, traveling in a bag at your feet is sure better than paying for them to stay in a crowded kennel. And wherever you’re headed, you’ll be far happier to have them there with you. 🐶🐱

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About the author
Tom Gambardella

Tom Gambardella

While originally from the New York area, Tom has found himself in travel spots all over the world. Whether he's living it up in the big city or taking in the sights of a countryside, you can probably find him near the food.
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