Flight Delayed in China After Pet Escapes on Board

Sometimes, it’s the smallest things that can cause the biggest disruptions. This was precisely the case for passengers on a flight between the eastern Chinese cities of Shanghai and Jinan, who faced an unexpected delay due to a tiny pet possum.

The miniature sugar glider—a nocturnal creature that resembles a flying squirrel—managed to break free from its owner on a China Eastern Airlines flight on Monday. The little animal scurried away, causing quite a stir as it hid within the cabin, leading to a series of events that eventually forced all passengers to temporarily disembark.

In an official statement posted on their Weibo social media account, the Shanghai Police International Airport Branch detailed the incident: “On a flight from Shanghai to Jinan on June 10, 2024, a passenger surnamed Guo (female, 34 years old) violated regulations by bringing a pet sugar glider on board. The pet escaped in the cabin and was eventually captured by others.”

The incident, which occurred on flight MU5599 departing from Shanghai’s Hongqiao International Airport, quickly garnered attention. Videos shared on social media depict a flight attendant kneeling on the ground, meticulously searching for the furry escapee. The sight of a flight attendant on their hands and knees looking for a tiny possum added a surreal element to the unexpected delay.

Reports indicate that all passengers were ultimately required to disembark the plane and wait in the terminal building while the search for the sugar glider continued. Social media footage, reposted by local media outlets, shows passengers gathered in front of a counter at the airport, engaging in discussions and negotiations with airline staff about the delay and their next steps.

The Shanghai police confirmed that the flight was delayed “due to safety issues” arising from the presence of the loose animal. The owner of the miniature possum was taken into custody, underscoring the serious nature of violating airline regulations by bringing unauthorized pets on board.

This incident highlights how even a tiny creature can cause significant disruptions and safety concerns on a flight, reminding passengers of the importance of adhering to airline policies regarding pets. The delayed flight from Shanghai to Jinan will be remembered not for its destination, but for the small possum that turned it into an unexpected adventure for everyone on board.

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