Woman given maximum fine for walking into Australian airport with a rose

Originally published at: Woman given maximum fine for walking into Australian airport with a rose | Boing Boing


Much the same can happen in the US:

All travelers entering the United States are REQUIRED to DECLARE meats, fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, soil, animals, as well as plant and animal products (including soup or soup products) they may be carrying
civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to $1,000 per first-time offense for non-commercial quantities


Or put another way, “European colonists destroyed much of the indigenous Australians’ country when they decided to introduce invasive fauna that was more to their liking than the local biosphere.”


I was thinking about how much of Australia was destroyed after Europeans were introduced.


I understand that ignorance is no excuse on the part of the traveler. But surely the airline staff who gave her the rose should have had some awareness or responsibility in knowing that they shouldn’t be handing out flora to passengers. Do they have any responsibility to provide instructions about declarations or leaving flowers on the plane?


It certainly seems like the Airline should step up and pay this.


She said the cabin crew gave her a rose,

Came to say the same thing. Some reporter (do they still exist?) should have asked Qatar Airways for a statement about this. The airline really needs to rethink its ‘hospitality’ policies and align them with destination laws.


I witnessed this a few years ago. I had arrived into Newark on a KLM flight from Amsterdam. A sniffer dog in the baggage claim area pointed out a female passenger. When she emptied her handbag, she found an apple that had been given to her by the KLM flight crew.

The dog handler took the apple, the woman apologized, the dog handler basically said “we all make mistakes”, and went back to checking the rest of the bags and passengers.

That is the way things should be handled.


The logic behind writing fines to be readily inflation-adjusted is impeccable; but it’s also the case that being fined “six penalty units” sounds approximately 2500% more dystopian than being fined $1,878.

It’s basically impossible not to hear that verdict being delivered in the Combine Overwatch announcer voice.


The penalties for Hawaii are even harsher for importing agricultural products:

Any person who defaces this declaration form, gives false information, or fails to declare, prohibited or restricted articles in their possession, including baggage, or fails to declare these items on cargo manifests is in violation of Chapter 150A, Hawaii Revised Statutes, and may be guilty of a misdemeanor punishable, in certain instances, by a maximum penalty of $25,000 and/or up to one year imprisonment. Intentionally smuggling a snake or other prohibited or restricted article into Hawai‘i is, in certain circumstances, a Class C felony punishable by a maximum penalty of $200,000 and/or up to five years imprisonment.

Plus you’re on the hook for covering the cost of eradication or control if something gets out.


My wife and I were threatened with a fine and detainment by a US customs official in Pearson International in Toronto for packing clementines in our carry-on.


Also, when they gave her the rose makes a difference, too - if they handed it to her as she was leaving, she would have already filled out her customs declaration form… it wouldn’t just be irresponsible of the airline, they would actually be setting a trap for the passenger.


I am a retired lawyer who specialized in customs and international trade matters. Clearly, what the Australian customs administration did in this case was unreasonable. First, there was no intent to smuggle or hide the rose. Second, it was not a commercial shipment of goods. Third, the passenger had evidently not been informed to declare everything, including the rose, which was of minimal value and had a limited life span. Under these circumstances the Australian customs officers should have told the passenger that it was illegal to bring the rose into the country and that she needed to throw it in the trash. In the US, most customs officers would have told a passenger attempting to bring a freash orange into the country to do the same thing. Instead, the Australian customs officers fined the passenger $1,200. Ridiculous, a clear abuse of discretion and an action which will discourage the woman from ever traveling to Australia again.


… I mean, everyone involved expected it to end up in the trash at some point

The problem was not that the flower was outside the trash, it was that it was inside Australia :kangaroo:


True. If she was being an utter Karen to the flight crew, that could have been the crew “paying her back” for all of the verbal abuse she dished out to them, KNOWING what she was about to walk into.

(What an evil thought. Glad I don’t work in a customer facing role.)


Thank you for your opinion, new member.


I can see it now.
“Qatar Airways? She’s coming from Dubai? Whack her with the maximum, she’ll be good for it.”


Federal agency APHIS used to be pretty strict about what went from Puerto Rico back to the US. Bag check & sticker.


This all makes sense, but it presupposes that the woman told the truth with her claim that she was given the rose by a member of flight staff. If customs officers investigated this and found it to be untrue, then the claim and the charge both make a lot of sense.

After a 30-minute search of her bags and personal belongings, Lays was hit with a penalty of $1,878 for knowingly providing false or misleading information.

Was she telling the truth and the customs officers over-zealous and vindictive? Or did she bring a rose and try to cover her ass when she got busted? The facts as reported don’t have any tells IMHO.


She really should have picked up that can not picked up that rose