United Airlines Rescues Possum On JetBlue’s No Fly List

**Update: 17/12/19 @ 22:36 UTC –  A JetBlue spokesperson has shared further information on what occurred on the flight, details below.**

A man from California ended up stranded in Austin, Texas for four days following an incident on a JetBlue flight. The passenger was visiting his mother for Thanksgiving but was kicked off his return flight out of the city. This was after crew spotted that he had an opossum as company.

United Airlines Aircraft
United Airlines helped the flier and his pet possum get home after JetBlue halted their plans. Photo: United Airlines

Fox 7 reports that Gerald Tautenhahn and his pet named Zatara had no problem traveling outbound on the JetBlue route.

In fact, to ensure that everything would be okay, he had called the carrier beforehand to confirm if the pair could travel together. He states that the airline said this would be fine. Thereafter, they had a seamless journey to the Texas capital.

About to takeoff

However, while trying to go home, things weren’t so smooth. Despite clearing security and the boarding the flight, staff confronted Tautenhahn about the marsupial before taking off. They told him that he can either leave Zatara in Austin or he can stay with her there. However, there would be no way that she could fly on the plane.

This infuriated Tautenhahn, especially since he had already cleared the process with JetBlue and didn’t face any issue on his previous flight.

Possum
Opossums are a part of the marsupial family. Photo: Cody Pope via Wikimedia Commons

Seeking alternatives

Subsequently, unable to fly together on the plane they had boarded, the pair were left in Austin to try and find other ways of travel. After four days of frustration, he managed to confirm a flight with United Airlines.

Thereafter, the traveler said he had days of work to catch up on due to the unforeseen circumstances. United conforms to guidelines set by TSA and Austin-Bergstrom International Airport. They state that possums are not banned from air travel at local, state, and federal levels.

JetBlue Airbus A321
JetBlue is very particular about its pet policy. Photo: Airbus

JetBlue’s policy

However, JetBlue states that it is very specific about what type of pets are allowed on its flights.

“JetBlue gladly accepts small dogs and cats only in an approved pet carrier. On the customer’s return trip, our crewmembers in Austin witnessed the opossum come out of its carrier and saw that it was not a cat or dog,” the airline said, as reported by Fox 7.

“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.”

JetBlue’s website does state that it only accepts small cats and dogs as pets. Therefore, it is clear about its policy.

Although, if Tautenhahn did confirm his travel plans with the airline beforehand, there should have been no problem. There are also inconsistencies in the application of the policy as he was able to travel with the opossum on his outward journey.

A spokesperson for JetBlue also informed Simple Flying about what occurred on the aircraft.

“JetBlue gladly accepts small dogs and cats only in an approved pet carrier. On the customer’s return trip, our crewmembers in Austin witnessed the opossum come out of its carrier and saw that it was not a cat or dog,” the spokesperson said.

“The crewmembers informed the customer that the opossum would not be able to travel on the flight and worked to assist the customers with his options.”

What do you think about the way JetBlue handled this situation? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section.

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