In recent years, the ability to bring certain pets onboard Amtrak has returned. For a good many years before this development, Amtrak passengers were not permitted to bring their pets onboard a train. All of that started to change with an experiment in 2014.

The experiment permitting pets onboard Amtrak trains on a limited number of select routes went well. Indeed, it went so well, by 2018 the general Amtrak policy that pets are welcome. As noted a moment ago, there are limitations as to the type of companion animals that can be brought on board an Amtrak train. These limitations, and other requirements, are presented here for your consideration.

Pet Descriptions, Requirements, and Limitations

Dogs and cats are welcome aboard Amtrak. In order to be allowed on a train, a dog or cat must weigh 20 pounds or less.

Your pet must be at least eight weeks old. Your furry friend must also be clean and odorless, harmless, and not disruptive.

You must certify that your pet is up to date on his or her vaccinations. In addition, you need to accept full liability for your pet by signing the check-in document. The check-in document is signed before you initially board a train and the start of your trip. In addition, it needs to be signed before each subsequent leg of your journey.

Onboard with Your Pet

When you travel on Amtrak with your pet, you will be in Coach Class. As of this time, this is the only location on an Amtrak train in which a pet is permitted. On some trains, a specific coach car is identified for pets. On other trains, a pet can travel in any coach car.

The Amtrak routes that have a designated coach car for pets are:

  • Amtrak Cascades
  • Carl Sandburg
  • Illinois Zephyr
  • Illini
  • Lincoln Service
  • Saluki
  • Pere Marquette
  • Wolverine
  • Blue Water
  • Hiawatha
  • Missouri River Runner

As an aside, service animals are not bound to this limitation. They accompany the person they serve no matter what location on a train the human is ticketed.

Your pet must remain in a carrier while onboard a train. The carrier is to be kept under your seat, not the seat in front of you. The one exception is if you travel on Amtrak Cascades trains. In those trains, you can place the carrier on the floor in front of the seat next to you.

Amtrak Reservations when Traveling with Your Pet

You can make a reservation on Amtrak for you and your pet by calling a reservation agent at 800-USA-RAIL. You can also make a reservation at any staffed train station. You can make a reservation online at Amtrak.com.

Pet reservations are available no a first-come, first-served basis. Only five pets are permitted per train. Thus, available pet reservations can fill up quickly. Thus, you are best served booking early. Service animals on a particular train do not go towards the pet tally. Pet reservations are limited to one per each human passenger.

The fare for a pet is $25 for each travel segment. In the alternative, you can pay for your pet’s reservation using 800 Amtrak Guest Rewards points for each trip segment. You can also use a combination of points and money. The total period of time a pet can on a trip is seven hours. This time period includes any transfer time at a station if your trip will have multiple segments.

If there is a service disruption for some reason during the course of your trip, Amtrak does attempt to find pet-friendly accommodations. There is no guaranty that pet-friendly accommodations will be found in all cases, however. That is out of the control of Amtrak.

Approved Pet Carriers

You must provide your own per carrier. The maximum size for a pet carrier on an Amtrak train is 19″ long x 14″ wide x 10.5″ high. The maximum weight of pet and carrier is a total of 20 pounds. The carrier can be sort of hard. It must be well ventilated. It must be leak proof. The carrier must be large enough to permit your pet the ability to sit and lie down without touching the sides. Your pet carrier counts as one piece of carry-on baggage. Get the carrier about a month in advance of your planned trip to allow you pet the opportunity to get used to it.