COSTA MESA, Calif. (KCBS/KCAL/CNN) – It seems flying with a pet opossum can be troublesome.
Gerald Tautenhahn thought he had everything taken care of before traveling with his furry friend, Zatara, but he said that wasn’t the case.
Two months after his father passed away in Austin, Texas, Tautenhahn wanted to spend time with his mother and cheer her up by bringing Zatara along for the trip.
“I called around. I called the Department of Transportation,” he said. “They said if it’s OK with the airlines, (it’s) OK with us.”
According to Tautenhahn, JetBlue said it wasn’t a problem if Zatara was in an approved pet carrier.
So, the pair flew to Texas with no issues.
But when it was time to come back to California, a federal air marshal told Tautenhahn he wasn’t sure if it was OK to have an opossum on board.
“And then they said, ‘Well, how did you get here?’ Just like this, I flew on a plane,” he said he told them.
Tautenhahn said he was told he couldn’t fly back and that him being allowed on the first flight was a mistake.
“I did my homework, and I was allowed to fly out there,” Tautenhahn said. “The least you can do is let me return home with her.”
He said a representative encouraged him to rent a car and drive back to California.
After four days in Austin, Tautenhahn said he booked a ticket on United Airlines, paid the pet fee, put Zatara in an approved carrier and walked on board.
He was soon back home.
But Tautenhahn has a word of advice for anyone else looking to travel with an opossum.
“If you have an opossum, you might want to just drive.”