Amtrak goes all in on dogs (and pet fares add up)

Amtrak has expanded its onboard pet travel options to include weekday Acela service. (Courtesy Amtrak)

Amtrak is looking for all the new passengers it can get with ridership still down about 75% from pre-pandemic levels, and that includes more dogs and cats.

Amtrak has expanded its onboard pet program to include weekday Acela trains. Previously, small pets in carriers were only allowed on weekend Acela trains. Pets are already allowed seven days a week on regular Northeast Corridor trains.

Pet fare is $26 per one-way trip (or 800 Amtrak rewards points), and its pet policy limits dogs and cats to no more than 20 pounds. They must remain in a carrier at all times.

Pets — even in carriers — are not allowed in first class cars or cafe cars. Onboard pets are limited to eight pets per departure, and are booked on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Pet owners are required to sign a pet release and indemnification agreement before travel. That includes agreeing to pay for cleaning up any messes a pet makes, and confirming that they are not aggressive and are fully vaccinated.

Pet fare is not small change for Amtrak.

Since it first launched its onboard pet program on the Northeast Corridor in 2015, it says 174,300 pets have traveled with their human companions, generating $4.4 million in fare revenue.

Amtrak’s COVID-19 protocols include its new standard of travel developed with Georgetown University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health for sanitization and safety procedures.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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