Woman fined $500 after taking free snack apple off Delta flight

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/04/23/woman-fined-500-after-taking.html


Woman fined $500 after taking free snack apple off Delta flight

When you need an example of what’s wrong with the USA, please use this.


I would have thought that food offered by the airline would already have been subject to customs declarations prior to being offered to the passengers. And as a passenger, I would have assumed the same, or expected some sort of instruction from the airplane’s crew to declare it if not eaten. Am I wrong in this regard?




One would also think that a traveler who went through CBP often enough would know better than to bring an apple. I know it is a common question when I go to and from Canada. NO FRESH FRUIT. IN EITHER DIRECTION.

eta: mind if you answer ‘sorry where is the bin to toss it in’ they are happy to oblige and let you go after tossing the fruit.


Isn’t the apple’s point of origin the real issue? If it was orginally in the US then why would it need to be declared? i.e. The woman didn’t buy the apple in France and bring it in to the US. She got the apple from Delta who presumably (though that presumption is the heft of my argument) put it on the plane in the US and flew it to France and then gave it to the woman on the way back to the US. So, you know, that’s just…whatever.


The officer was being a jerk, but these days it’s best to assume the worst of any ICE agent you might encounter. These are Il Douche’s most loyal LEOs, after all.


Oh I place plenty of blame on Delta for not informing passengers that it should be eaten or tossed before customs heck for even offering it knowing it could cause problems.

Like I said above it goes both ways as far as bringing fruit as I get asked that by the Canada border guys and gals as well.


I hope she will challenge this and the agent will be disciplined. This is abuse.


“Sheer malicious smugness…”

Sort of captures the Zeitgeist of American bureaucracy in these downward-spiraling days, doesn’t it?


I think it is more likely Delta picked up new supplies of food and drink in France than that they carried all the way from USA and back. In any case customs couldn’t be certain. Confiscating the fruit was a sensible decision, fining her, less so.

I had a run in with their beagle brigade a long time ago when I had had some fruit in my backpack that I ate on the plane, but the smell lingered. In my case they were very polite though, didn’t even search the backpack, just took my word for it. This was pre-9/11, though, so a less authoritarian mindset.




Hopefully people will take agricultural import controls more seriously after reading this story… this is great publicity for a neglected topic. Plant diseases are no joke… an imported disease could cost billions. Doesn’t matter if the apple came from an airline, it could still be infected of course. Delta should warn their passengers. The USDA inspector did nothing wrong.


I realise that with all the things going wrong in the world today, it’s silly to refer to this episode as “heartbreaking”, but it’s a clear example of unnecessary suffering, and therefore of everything that’s wrong with the world! In fact humanity does much worse than this, but often they will try to hide it when they do! The blatant aspect of the border guard’s dis-regard for the person he was fining is what makes it so painful.


Filed in my mind now “throw anything edible from the plane out as you get off of the plane”


New Zealand has some of the strictest (and to some observers, ludicrous) biosecurity border controls in the world. We get these sort of incidents weekly, if not daily at every entry port.

Of course, there is clear signage and disposal bins everywhere as you enter, and the inspectors are all humans, and offer you the chance to biff anything obviously accidental. They sensibly save their energy for genuine concealments, or hoarded home cooking ingredients from China.


The real problem is that she didn’t declare the fruit despite signs and bins and verbal questions about “do you have anything to declare?” (and I believe the customs form you get on the plane also says this, so Delta’s off the hook I think). Though I agree that CPB agents are rarely cuddly and the guy/gal who dealt this penalty may have been extra-snarky, the fact that this lady got all in a huff and contacted Fox News about the incident makes me suspect she may have flexed some attitude also, which—as she discovered—is a mistake when dealing with a Federal officer. She could have positioned this as a cautionary tale about, “oh, I thought I could sneak this by and I got caught, don’t you do it too!” Instead, she’s just conveniently leaving out the fact that she broke federal law and is painting herself as the victim here. Meh.

There’s a TV show in Canada about the RMP and there are whole episodes where the camera just sits at the border with the Mounties and watches them go through people’s bags and reproach travelers for not declaring their dairy products and produce etc. (and they occasionally chase a border crasher for excitement). It’s like this non-violent low-angst version of “Cops.” One lady got very politely scolded at the border crossing for not declaring her cheese and got a hefty fine, but she was nice about it (I’m guessing she was Canadian). The Mounties, all of whom are huge guys that look like boulders with arms, legs, and bald heads, turn to the camera and say, “Declare your cheese.” I’m sure if the apple-smuggling lady had watched his show her tragedy could have been averted.


When I lived in Lynden, WA - just a couple miles from the border and Vancouver, BC - there were massive lines at the border every weekend of Canadians coming in to the States to shop, mostly for groceries or gas. The biggest thing I noticed in the market was the incredible amount of milk being purchased, but generally it was everything from frozen pizza to fresh radishes, and anything in between. I never really thought about it, and don’t recall being asked during my many trips north to Vancouver, but were all those people smuggling?


A couple of things being missed here:

  1. She had global entry. (Look at her tweet about it.) Global Entry trades in general very easy entry for strict punishment if you break the rules. If you have global entry you are expected to know the rules.

  2. I have read that the apple was acceptable–but that doesn’t excuse you from not declaring it.


New Zealand’s “Border Patrol” is the same. Very low-key real crimewatch, with a load of mildly entertaining schadenfreude. A bunch of other countries have their own also.