(CNN) – An Orange County man thought he had everything taken care of before traveling with his pet opossum, Zatara.
But he says that wasn’t the case.
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 Zatara the opossum he raised from just weeks old.
“I did my homework and I was allowed fly out there. At least you can do is let me return home with her,” said Tautenhahn. “They said if it’s ok with airlines, ok with us, call the airline. They said, no, it’s fine as long as she’s an approved pet care.”
He and his twin brother loaded up Zatara and headed to Long Beach Airport after he says he called the airport to double check.
He was cleared to travel with Zatara. December 4, he and the possum went through security with no problem. They flew JetBlue to Austin. 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.
“And then he said, well, how did you get here? Look, just like this. I flew on the plane,” he said.
He says they told him he couldn’t fly back. And in so many words.
“Well, it was our mistake for letting him on the plane in the first place. But it’s your problem. Deal with it.”
Tautenhahn says a representative encouraged him to rent a car and drive back to Newport Beach. He was stranded.
After four days in Austin, Tautenhahn says he booked a ticket on United, paid a pet fee and put Zatara in a carrier. This time he wasn’t asked what was in the approved carrier and he walked on.