A California woman is claiming a Southwest Airlines agent forced her to leave her pet fish at the airport last Wednesday.
Lanice Powless, a University of Colorado student, was flying to California from Denver International Airport when she said a Southwest Airlines employee informed her that she would not be allowed to bring her pink beta fish, Cassie, onboard with her.
"I've taken him everywhere with me," Powless said to 10News.
Powless had gotten the fish her freshman year of college to combat loneliness she was feeling being away at school. The two formed a fast friendship, Powless said to 10News.
"I put my finger in there, he come up and nibble my finger. He was a cool fish," she said. "I even got him a heater, because it gets so cold in Colorado."
Powless said she had brought Cassie onto flights before and was not hassled about it.
"I have traveled with it. I had it in my container too.”
According to the TSA website, live fish are allowed on board as carry on bags.
“Live fish in water and a clear transparent container are allowed after inspection by the TSA officer,” the website reads.
However, Southwest Airlines’ policy allows only small cats and dogs that fit under the seat to fly.
Desperate, Powless said she asked a gate agent if she could leave her fish at the counter so a friend could come pick him up in a half an hour. However, the agent allegedly denied her, leaving Powless to start asking random passengers on other airlines if they wanted to care for the beta.
Luckily, Powless claims she managed to find someone traveling on an airline that allowed fish who was willing to take Cassie, but airport staff were dubious.
"They were not allowing us to converse at all because they were thinking we were going to do some secret exchange throughout the airport," Powless said. "Even after I was no longer in possession of the fish, they still continued to have security around us, and follow us through the airport and escorted onto our plane, as if we brought something bad onto the airport," she added.
Powless noted that she is getting made fun of for her fishy friend, but sees it as no different than being attached to a cat or dog.
"Everyone's laughing at me. Yes, it's a fish. I know. But dang, it was my pet. And just because it wasn't a cat or dog, it wasn't as important?" Powless said.
Southwest Airlines confirmed the incident to Fox News, and claimed they offered to alter Powless' trip so she could make accomodations for her fish, which she allegedly denied.
"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," the airline spokesperson said.