Woman fined $650 for saving free airline snack
A WOMAN is facing a $650 fine from US Customs and Border Protection for saving a free apple she received as a snack from Delta Air Lines on her way back to the United States from Paris.
Crystal Tadlock said towards the end of her flight from Paris, flight attendants passed out apples in plastic bags as a snack, Fox News reported.
The Colorado woman put the fruit in her carry-on bag to save for when she was hungry during the second leg of her trip.
Once Ms Tadlock arrived in the US, she went through customs and her bag was chosen to be randomly searched, Fox 31 reported.
Ms Tadlock said a customs agent pulled out the apple in the plastic bag with Delta's logo on it.
When questioned about the snack, Ms Tadlock explained she received the apple from the airline and asked if she could throw it away or eat it. The customs agent allegedly told her no and fined her $US500 ($A657) for carrying the undeclared fruit.
"He had asked me if my trip to France was expensive and I said, 'yeah'. I didn't really get why he was asking that question, and then he said, 'It's about to get a lot more expensive after I charge you $500,'" Ms Tadlock said.
She said the innocent mistake could end up costing her more than just the fine - she could also lose her Global Entry Status, which allows pre-approved, low-risk travellers to have expedited clearance into the US.
Ms Tadlock said she was frustrated with the incident and felt Delta should not have passed the apples out to customers or should have at least reminded passengers not to take the fruit off the plane.
She also thought customs could have handled the situation differently after seeing the fruit was in an airline-marked bag.
"It's really unfortunate someone has to go through that and be treated like a criminal over a piece of fruit," she said.
A Customs and Border Protection (CBP) spokesman said in a comment to Fox News that "all agricultural items must be declared".
"Prohibited items that are not declared by a passenger are confiscated and disposed of by CBP. More importantly, civil penalties may be assessed for failure to declare prohibited agricultural products and may range up to 1000 dollars per first-time offence for non commercial quantities. If the items are determined to be for commercial use, violations will be assessed at a much higher rate," the statement read.
According to the US Customs and Border Protection website: "Every fruit or vegetable must be declared to a CBP Agriculture Specialist or CBP Officer and must be presented for inspection."
Australia has the same rules for all passengers entering the country.
A spokesman for Delta said in a statement to Fox News: "We encourage customers to adhere to US Customs and Border Protection policies and requirements."
Ms Tadlock is planning to fight the charge in court.