A San Diego woman was traveling home from college in Colorado when an airline employee told her she could not bring her pet on the plane with her. In this case, the pet was a fish.
Lanice Powless is a University of Colorado student at Colorado Springs and was traveling through Denver International Airport with her pet Betta fish "Cassie."
Powless had traveled with the fish before and even checked the website for the TSA to see if she could fly home with the pet over the holiday break.
“Typically I would just check in and then go through TSA and walked right on with it,” Powless told KUSA-TV. “No one’s ever stopped me.”
TSA policy allows live fish in carry-on bags after inspection by a TSA officer.
However, Southwest does not. An employee told Powless her fish could not go on the plane with her.
Southwest’s pet policy is stricter, allowing only small dogs and crates in crates stowed under the customer’s seat.
In the end, she handed Cassie over to another traveler going on a different airline.
The two got separated at the airport before they could exchange contact information.
“I don't know where my fish is at. I don't know if they allowed her to take it.”
Southwest Airlines offered a statement on Monday.
“A Customer attempted to bring a pet fish onboard their flight from Denver to San Diego. Our Customer Service Agents informed the Customer about Southwest’s pets policy which does not allow for live fish to travel in the passenger cabin. Our Team offered to re-book the Customer for a later flight to allow them to make arrangements for their pet but the Customer refused that option. The Customer eventually traveled on their originally scheduled flight.”
Powless told KUSA she wasn't given the option to book a different flight.
“I would have gladly taken another flight. I was in no rush to get home, I’m on break,” she said. “If they offered me a later flight to drop off my fish, that would have been totally fine with me.”
She advises anyone else in a similar situation to check with the individual airline, not just the TSA site.