California man kicked off plane for having pet opossum


LOS ANGELES (CNN) — An orange county man thought he had everything taken care of before traveling with his pet opossum, Tara. But he says that wasn’t the case.

“I did my homework and I was allowed to fly out there. At least you can do is let me return home with her.”

Gerald Tautenhahn says two months after his father passed away in Austin, Texas, he wanted to spend time with his mom and cheer her up by bringing Tara, the opossum he raised from just weeks old.

“They said if it’s OK with airlines, OK with us, call the airline,” Tautenhahn said. “They said, no, it’s fine as long as she’s an approved pet.”

He and his twin brother loaded up Tara and headed to long beach airport after he says he called the airport to double-check.

He was cleared to travel with Tara. On Dec. 4, he and the possum went through security with no problem. They flew Jet Blue to Austin and his mom loved her.

A few days later, he says, when they tried to fly back to Long Beach, he says an air marshal told him he wasn’t sure if it was ok to have an opossum on board.

He says they told him he couldn’t fly back. And in so many words.

“Well, it was our mistake for letting on the plane in the first place. But it’s your problem. Deal with it,” Tautenhahn said.

Todd Mahone says a representative encouraged him to rent a car and drive back to Newport Beach. He was stranded.

After four days in Austin, Mahone says he booked a ticket on United, paid a pet fee and put Tara in a carrier. This time he wasn’t asked what was in the approved carrier and he walked on.

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


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