California man, pet possum stranded for 4 days after being booted from JetBlue flight

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Man and pet possum booted off flight, stranded for days

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A possum was not pretty in a pink pet carrier to airline officials, who booted the animal and its owner off a JetBlue flight two weeks ago.

Gerald Tautenhahn, and his pet opossum, Zatara, were stranded in Austin, Texas, for four days while he tried to make arrangements to return to his Newport Beach home, KCBS reported.

Tautenhahn said he had no issues when he flew on a JetBlue flight from California to Austin to visit his mother Dec. 4, KTBC reported.

“We did all of our homework about a month in advance,” Tautenhahn told the television station. “I called the Department of Transportation, cleared it with them. Cleared it with JetBlue, they said it was fine.”

The problem occurred when Tautenhahn and Zatara boarded a return flight to Long Beach Airport KCBS reported.

"Already boarded on the plane sitting on the seat and one of the crew members came up and said, 'Hey, can I speak with you outside?'" Tautenhahn told KTBC. "They said, 'Hey, either you can leave her here or you can stay with her but she can't fly.' The feeling was insane, it was frustrating beyond belief because they let me come here with her, but now I can't return with her."

Tautenhahn said an air marshal how he had gotten to Austin, and he told the official, "Just like this," KCBS reported. "I flew on the plane."

Tautenhahn said he was told allowing the opossum on board the first flight was a mistake, and he was encouraged to rent a car to drive back to California, the television station reported.

"It was just beyond frustrating," Tautenhahn told KCBS.

In a statement, JetBlue said it “gladly” accepts small dogs and cats in approved pet carriers.

'On the customer’s return trip, our crew members in Austin witnessed the opossum come out of its carrier and saw that it was not a cat or dog," the statement read. “The crewmembers informed the customer that the opossum would not be able to travel on the flight and worked to assist the customer with his options.”

Representatives with TSA and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport confirmed airlines are allowed to created their own pet policies, KTBC reported.

"Opossums are not banned from air travel at the federal, state or local level, the representatives said.

Tautenhahn was able to buy a ticket on a United Airlines flight and left for home four days after he and Zatara were removed from the JetBlue flight.

"I'm out four days of work now," Tautenhahn told KTBC. "I've got deadlines to meet and I had to push them all back.

“If you have an opossum, you might want to just drive.”

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