Andreas Hunter, 26, was not permitted to board the flight on Sunday from the Thai holiday island and forced to make speedy alternate plans.
Yet he told New Zealand media that he has travelled through more than 20 countries over the past month, and never once had trouble with his German passport.
Living in New Zealand with his girlfriend, Hunter said he actually checked with the German embassy before heading for Phuket International Airport and was told the passport should be fine despite the wear and tear.
But when he went to check in for his flight from Phuket to New Zealand on Sunday, the nightmare began, NZ media reported. Counter staff refused to accept the passport because it was in an "unacceptable condition".
Although dog-eared, the photo and information page was legible, he said.
''I am very upset that after you did not let me board my flight to New Zealand because you said my passport was dog-eared that you did not offer me any opportunity to change my flight,'' he complained later on social media.
''I would have thought considering it is Christmas you could have shown some consideration. It's looking very unlikely that I'll be able to buy a ticket now to arrive at Christmas. Thank you for making me miss Christmas. Seasons Greetings.''
Jetstar said Hunter's passport was more than just dog-eared. The spine was falling apart, according to the airline.
Jetstar consulted New Zealand's Immigration Border Operations Centre and ''was advised that the passenger should not be accepted for the flight until his travel document was replaced.''
''All border control authorities would rightly expect proper and intact travel documents before granting admission into a country.''
Hunter made it back to new Zealand for Christmas. He was able to rebook a flight with Singapore Airlines, and landed in Christchurch on Tuesday morning.
He experienced no issues with check in, boarding or immigration, despite using the same passport that Jetstar considered damaged.
''As you can imagine the situation has caused a lot of stress and cost for me, in particular to get on a flight to New Zealand now so close to Christmas,'' Hunter said.
''I just wanted to spend my first Christmas in New Zealand with my girlfriend.''
Immigration New Zealand said in a statement that its criteria for acceptable travel documents is that they must be authentic and not officially altered or tampered with.
It advised travellers to take "reasonable" care of their passports.