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New Branded Pet Program Guarantees Boarding for Pets

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Doggie closeupEight U.S. airlines have announced the Guaranteed On-Board Program (GOB), which guarantees members full reimbursement of the ticket price and the pet travel fee if they are denied boarding due to pet carrier restrictions.

American Airlines, Midwest Airlines, Continental Airlines, Delta Air Lines, Northwest Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Alaska Airlines partnered with pet-carrier manufacturer The Sherpa Pet Group to develop the program.

But will the new program really help travelers with pets?

To participate, travelers can fill out a form, available on, including flight information, the pet’s height and weight and … which Sherpa-brand carrier you’re using. That’s right, no other brand of pet carrier is eligible for this program.

If a pet is denied cabin boarding because of the carrier, Sherpa Pet Group will reimburse travelers for the cost of their ticket and the airline pet fee (usually $100 to $150 each way).

Learn more about traveling with pets in our Pet Travel section.

Beach dogAlthough pet carriers may be marked “airline approved,” there is little standardization among domestic carriers, which has left some passengers stranded at the gate when their pet is denied boarding because the carrier is deemed unacceptable or unsafe by the airline.

A general rule of thumb for pet travel is that the kennel must be sturdy, with a lockable door, properly ventilated, and large enough for the animal to stand, lie down, and turn around. Some requirements may vary based on whether the pet is traveling in the cabin or under the plane as cargo. The specific size of the kennel varies by pet and route.

American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have actually put their logos on Sherpa-brand bags, which are guaranteed to be accepted on the respective airlines, but travelers aren’t required to use airline-branded carriers.

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By Sarika Chawla for