Guide to Train Travel With Pets – and Getting Rewarded for It!

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Guide to Train Travel With Pets – and Getting Rewarded for It!

Andrew WGuide to Train Travel With Pets – and Getting Rewarded for It!Million Mile Secrets Team

We devote thousands of hours of research to help you get Big Travel with Small Money. You support us by signing-up for credit cards through partner links which earn us a commission. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.

Did you know that traveling with your pet by train can often be a much safer and cheaper alternative than flying or even driving?  It’s true!

And with many airlines recently tightening up their policies on flying with pets, it’s always good to be prepared to travel by train just in case you’re not able to fly with your pet!

Don’t Worry If You Can’t Fly With Your Pet!  Traveling by Train Is a Great Alternative, and Can Even Be Safer and Cheaper Than Flying!

I’ll go over what you should have with you if you are traveling with your pet by train, as well as summarize the rules and policies for some of the rail transit systems in the US!

Why Travel by Train With Pets?

Traveling by train can be much safer than flying.  That’s because air travel can put your pet at risk due to changes in air quality, air circulation, temperature, cabin pressure, and other environmental issues that could be harmful to your pet’s health!

In fact, select short-nosed breeds are not allowed to travel on certain airlines because of respiratory issues that may make it especially difficult for them to breathe properly under the stress and environment of flying.

If you’re a dog owner and you have one of the following breeds, it may be especially important for them to avoid air travel:

  • Pug
  • Bulldog
  • French Bulldog
  • Japanese Chin
  • Neapolitan Mastiff
  • Lhasa Apso
  • Shih Tzu
  • Pekingese
  • Brussels Griffon
  • Bullmastiff
  • Affenpinscher
  • English Toy Spaniel
Certain Breeds of Dogs With Short Snouts, Like the Brussels Griffon, May Be Especially Prone to the Environmental Pressures of Flying.  So You May Want to Consider Traveling by Train Instead!

What Trains Can I Use to Travel With My Pet?

There are a number of different train systems in the US you can take to travel with your pet.  Here are some common train systems in the US you may consider looking into if you are thinking about traveling by train.

  • Alaska – Alaska Railroad
  • Arizona – Valley Metro Rail, Sun Link
  • Arkansas – Metro Street Car
  • California – Altamont Corridor Express, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Caltrain, Coaster, Light Rail, Metro Rail, Metrolink, Muni Metro
  • Colorado – RTD Rail
  • Connecticut – Shore Line East
  • District of Columbia – DC Street Car, Metrorail
  • Florida – Metromover, Metrorail, Tri-Rail
  • Georgia – MARTA Rail System
  • Illinois – Metra
  • Maryland – MARC
  • Massachusetts – CapeFLYER, MBTA Commuter Rail
  • Michigan – Detroit People Mover, QLine
  • Minnesota – METRO
  • Missouri – Metrolink
  • Nationwide – Amtrak
  • New Jersey – Hudson-Bergen Light Rail
  • New Mexico – New Mexico Rail Runner Express
  • New York – Long Island Rail Road, Metrorail
  • Oregon – WES Commuter Rail
  • Pennsylvania – Norristown High Speed Line, PATCO Speedline
  • Texas – A-Train, Capital Metro Rail
  • Utah – TRAX
  • Washington – Link Light Rail

What You Should Have With You

Fortunately, traveling by train with your pet is much easier than flying.  That’s because in the vast majority of cases, you won’t have to worry about having to produce proof of vaccinations, a health certificate, or any other type of paperwork.  In fact, most of them only require that your pet be able to travel in a pet carrier that can fit on your lap, or underneath your seat.

Traveling by Train With Your Pet Often Requires Far Less Paperwork Than Flying.  In Most Cases, They’ll Just Need to Travel in a Pet Carrier That Fits on Your Lap or Underneath Your Seat, and That’s It!  No Health Certificates, Proof of Vaccinations, or Other Paperwork Required!

If you will be traveling with a service dog, some train stations will require they wear some sort of identifying vest or special identification to indicate they are a service animal.  Otherwise, you should have no problems finding a train system to allow you to travel with your service animal.

Here is a more detailed list of some of the train systems and their specific policies!

RegionSystemRegulationsCost
NationwideAmtrakDogs and cats up to 20 pounds are allowed for trips of up to 7 hours on most routes. Maximum of 5 pets per train and 1 pet per customer. Service animals do not count toward these limits and are not considered pets.$25 or 800 Amtrak points for each travel segment.
AlbuquerqueNew Mexico Rail Runner ExpressOnly service animals are allowed. No special identification , tags, or harnesses as long as they are under the control of the handlerNo additional cost
AtlantaMARTA Rail SystemService animals and guide dogs are allowed. Otherwise, only small pets in pet carriers are permittedNo additional cost
AustinCapital MetroRailOnly service animals are allowed as long as they do not occupy a seat or block any aisles. No other pets are allowedNo additional cost
Boston AreaCapeFLYERAll pets are allowed as long as they are properly leashedNo additional cost
BostonMBTA SubwayService animals are allowed at all times. Other pets are usually only allowed during off-peak hours. Dogs must be on a leash and may not occupy a seat. Other small animals should be kept in pet carriersNo additional cost
BuffaloMetro RailOnly service animals are permittedNo cost for service animals
CharlotteLYNX Rapid Transit ServicesOnly service animals are allowedNo cost for service animals
ChicagoMetraService animals are allowed at all times. Otherwise, small pets in enclosed carriers are allowed on during non-peak hoursNo additional cost
CincinnatiCincinnati Bell ConnectorService animals are allowed. No other pets are allowed on the streetcar unless they are in a secured pet carrier.No additional cost
DentonA-TrainOnly service animals are allowed to ride on the A-TrainNo additional cost
DenverRTD RailService animals are allowed and do not require any special identification. Other pets are also welcome as long as they are carried on the rider’s lap in an appropriate enclosed containerNo additional cost
DetroitDetroit People MoverOnly leader dogs and service animals are specifically allowedNo cost for service animals
DetroitQLineOnly service animals are permitted to ride the trainNo cost for service animals
HoustonMETRORailService animals are allowed. All other pets are also allowed as long as they are caged properlyNo additional cost
Jersey City/Hudson CountyHudson-Bergen Light RailOnly service animals, police dogs, and small pets that fit inside a carry-on travel cage are allowedNo additional cost
Kansas CityKC StreetcarService animals are permitted, as well as non-service dogs if they travel in a pet carrierNo additional cost
Little RockMetro StreetcarNo explicit regulationsNo advertised additional cost
Los AngelesMetro RailService animals are allowed as long as they are under the control of the handler. Other pets are allowed if they are secured in a pet carrier, do not take up a seat, and do no otherwise interfere with the comfort/convenience of other customersNo additional cost
Los Angeles AreaMetrolinkService animals are allowed. Other pets must be in a pet carrier that fits on your lap, or underneath your seatNo additional cost
MiamiMetromoverService animals are allowed. Other pets must be in an enclosed pet carrierNo additional cost
MiamiMetrorailService animals are allowed. Other pets must be in an enclosed pet carrierNo additional cost
MiamiTri-RailService animals are allowed. Otherwise, only small pets are permitted if enclosed in a proper carrying cageNo additional cost
Minneapolis-Saint PaulMETROPets are welcome as long as they are kept in animal carriers. Service animals are exempt.No additional cost
New EnglandAmtrak DowneasterTrained service animals accompanying passengers with disabilities are permitted in our stations, on our trains and on Amtrak thruway motor coaches. Otherwise, small dogs and cats (20lbs or less) are permitted on Downeaster Trains in a pet carrier. Pet reservations are required and can be made online, at a staffed station or by calling 1-800-USA-RAIL / 1-800-872-7245.$25 or 800 Amtrak points for each travel segment.
New HavenShore Line EastService animals are allowed. Other pets must be on a leash in in a pet carrier, and may not occupy any other seatNo additional cost
New OrleansNew Orleans StreetcarsService animals are allowed, and no certification or identification is required. Other pets must travel in a carrier and the carrier must fit on the person’s lapNo additional cost
New YorkLong Island Rail RoadService animals, such as seeing eye dogs and hearing dogs, are allowed. Other pets must be properly confined for travelNo additional cost
PhiladelphiaNorristown High Speed LineOnly service animals are allowed, and it is recommended (although not required) that service animals wear identifying gearNo additional cost
PhiladelphiaPATCO SpeedlineAll service animals are permitted. Other pets must be in an enclosed carrier and must fit in the lap of the passengerNo additional cost
PhoenixValley Metro RailService animals are allowed. Companion, comfort, and therapy animals are not permitted unless they can be stowed within an enclosed pet carrier that fits on the customer’s lap or on the floor beneath the customer’s seatNo additional cost
PortlandMAXService animals are allowed. All other pets must travel in an enclosed carrierNo additional cost
SacramentoLight RailPets are allowed if they are (1) in a completely closed carrier small enough to fit on your lap, and (2) does not otherwise endanger or annoy other persons. Service animals are allowedNo additional cost
Salt Lake CityTRAXService animals are allowed. Other pets are also allowed as long as they are caged properlyNo additional cost
San DiegoCoasterSmall pets are allowed and must be in proper enclosed pet carriers. The carrier must be on the floor/lap and not on a seat. Service animals must be on a leash and may not block any aisles or occupy a seat.No additional cost
San FranciscoMuni MetroService animals are allowed at all hours. But pets may not ride during the peak hours listed on the website.No cost for service animals. For other pets, owners or guardians must pay a fare equal to their own for their pet to ride.
San Francisco Bay AreaBay Area Rapid TransitPets can be brought onboard at no additional charge, but they must be secured in a container specifically designed to transport your petNo cost for animals
San Francisco PeninsulaCaltrainOnly service animals are allowed. Service animals must be on a lead, and must sit or stand on the floor of the vehicle and may not block any aislesNo additional cost for service animals
San JoseAltamont Corridor ExpressWith the exception of guide dogs, animals are not allowed on the trainNo cost for service animals
SeattleLink Light RailService animals are allowed, and other pets may also ride if they are carried in small containersNo additional cost
TucsonSun LinkService animals are allowed. All other pets must be completely enclosed in carriers.No additional cost
WashingtonDC StreetcarOnly service animals are allowedNo cost for service animals
WashingtonMetrorailService animals are permitted to ride unconfined. Other pets may be transported provided they are in a secure pet carrierNo additional cost
WashingtonMARCService animals are allowed. Otherwise, only small pets confined in a secure pet carrier are allowed on MARC trainsNo additional cost

Getting Rewarded for Your Train Travel

If you decide to travel by train with your pet, or need to buy supplies in preparation for your trip, remember to use the best travel credit card to earn valuable miles and points for your future travels!  Here are some of our favorites:

  • Chase Sapphire Reserve® – You’ll earn 3X Chase Ultimate Rewards points per $1 spent on travel (excluding $300 travel credit) and dining.  And because Chase’s definition of travel also includes purchases made with operators of passenger trains, this is a great card to purchase your train tickets with!
  • Ink Business Unlimited℠ Credit Card – Earn 1.5% cash back (1.5X Chase Ultimate Rewards points) on all purchases.  Handy for if you need to buy a new pet carrier!
  • Capital One® Venture® Rewards Credit Card – Earn 2 Venture miles per $1 you spend on all purchases, perfect if you are looking for a card with simple rewards!

Bottom Line

There are a number of rail transit systems available in the US if you are looking to travel by train, and many allow you to travel with your pet with very little restrictions and hardly any documentation requirements.  In fact, when it comes to service animals, many train systems only require they be properly identified with a vest or harness.

If flying with your pet is not an option, traveling by train can be a great alternative.  It can often be safer, cheaper, and less complicated.  That’s because the stress and environment of flying can be harmful to your pet’s health!  Traveling by train does not subject them to the potentially traumatic pressures of flying, and can be a great way to travel with your pet without having to leave them at home!

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Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)

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