Traveler's Costly Mistake: Not Declaring Her Subway Sandwich

Australia is strict when it comes to entering the country with meat and vegetables
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 20, 2022 12:35 PM CDT
Updated Jul 23, 2022 7:58 AM CDT
Traveler's Half-Eaten Subway Sandwich Costs Her $1.8K
A Subway sandwich and cup is pictured at a restaurant in Londonderry, NH, on Feb. 23, 2018.   (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

A woman forgot to declare one half of a Subway sandwich after flying home to Australia and now has to pay a nearly $2,000 fine. Jessica Lee took to TikTok to describe what she calls "the most expensive sandwich ever," which is somewhat accurate considering Guinness World Records bestows that title on a $214 grilled cheese, per the Washington Post. The 19-year-old content creator said she was jet-lagged on a layover in Singapore following a vacation in Greece when she purchased the 12-inch sandwich "because I was a hungry girl after my 11-hour flight." She ate half the sandwich at the airport, then brought the other half on her final flight, intending to eat it before landing back home.

She didn't. As the Post reports, the "brain-fogged" traveler forgot all about the sandwich stashed in her purse, even as she filled out a declaration card asking about imported plant and animal products. "So I didn't tick 'chicken' and I didn't tick 'lettuce,'" Lee said in the video, making a checkmark gesture. That turned out to be a violation of Australia's Biosecurity Act, a strictly-enforced law designed to protect the country from invasive pests and diseases. As a rep for the country's Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry tells, "all meat products and vegetables must be declared on the Incoming Passenger Card," which is relayed in a video shown to incoming passengers on all airlines.

Lee only realized her mistake when her purse was checked in Australia. "When the officer looked at us and said, 'Yeah, this is going to be close to three grand,' I just started crying and crying," Lee said. She was fined 2,664 AUD or $1,844 and shared the video discussing the ordeal in the hope that others would avoid such a penalty. It's been viewed more than 1.3 million times. Now Lee jokes that she's all over the internet "for being an absolute idiot." There's some consolation, however. Subway Australia sent Lee a gift card for $1,844 worth of sandwiches. "We hope this covers all your chicken and lettuce needs," read the note. The company tells Food & Wine, "if there's a lesson to be learnt from all of this, it's to always finish a Footlong in one sitting." (Read more Subway stories.)

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