Travel News

Pet possum causes chaos and flight delay after escaping from owner

Simon Calder’s Travel

A pet sugar glider, a type of palm-size possum, escaped from its owner on a flight from Shanghai to Jinan in China, leading to chaos inside the cabin and a delay in departure.

The tropical marsupial’s escape forced passengers to disembark from the Eastern Airlines flight MU5599 on 10 June. The animal was captured and the incident caused a flight delay, Shanghai police said on their Weibo account.

The pet’s owner, a 34-year-old woman identified by her surname Guo, was detained for violating airline regulations by bringing the animal onboard and for disrupting public transportation orders, police said.

Ms Guo allegedly hid the sugar glider in her clothes during security checks, exploiting a screening blind spot.

The flight, scheduled to depart at 9.25pm, was delayed by an hour and two minutes due to the animal.

According to CGTN, the incident came to light after a person posted a video claiming that passengers of the Jinan-bound flight had to leave the plane after a “hamster” was found in the cabin.

The pet reportedly escaped within the airplane, causing flight attendants to scramble to recover it.

A video that was shared on social media allegedly showed all passengers disembarking and waiting for further instructions, with a woman flight attendant searching under seats and passengers communicating with airport personnel at a counter.

Aviation safety expert Lin Quan told Beijing News: “Such actions [concealing an animal on the flight] pose a risk of animals biting through electrical wires, potentially leading to in-flight malfunctions.”

He stressed that animals that have not been inspected could carry transmittable diseases.

Sugar gliders are palm-size possums that can glide half the length of a soccer pitch in one trip, according to the National Geographic.

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