All aboard! Amtrak OK’s limited pet travel

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Amtrak train photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic
Amtrak train in Washington, D.C. Photo by Alexandra Bogdanovic

The new year brings a new option for people who want or need to travel with small pets.

Now through February 15, Amtrak is allowing passengers traveling on trains between New York and Washington D.C.; Boston and Norfolk, Va.; and Brunswick, Maine, and Boston, to bring their dogs and cats along.

The service, announced in November, is classified as a “pilot program” and as such includes numerous stipulations. For one thing, the length of the entire journey can not exceed seven hours. Passengers traveling with pets must begin their journey at a staffed station where Amtrak workers can verify that certain requirements have been met. Pet owners must sign “pet waivers” and submit them to station staff, conductors or other train crew prior to boarding. Due to limited availability, Amtrak urges people who want to take advantage of the service to make reservations well in advance.

Here are some other things to consider:

  • Passengers must remain with pets at all times.
  • Pets must remain inside their carrier at all times and may not be removed from their carrier while in stations or onboard (sic) trains.
  • Passengers must keep their pet carrier under their own seat. Pet carriers are not permitted under the seat in front of you.
  • Pet carriers are not permitted on train seats.
  • Pets are not permitted in Business class, Café Cars or other food service cars.

To see more fine print, including the rules pertaining to the age and size of acceptable pets, click here. A quote from Amtrak President and CEO Joe Boardman can also be found in an article recently posted on

Personally, I applaud Amtrak for implementing its new plan. I think it’s a fantastic option for people who don’t want to subject their pets to the rigors of flying or even a long drive. But given Eli’s propensity for puking and incessant meowing on long trips, I definitely have my “reservations.”