Woman Fined $500 for Pocketing Delta Onboard Snack, May Lose Global Entry

When entering the U.S. you need to answer customers questions correctly. If you have any food with you, say so, because if you’re chosen for secondary screening and caught you could be fined — and lose Global Entry privileges if you have them. I’ve warned readers about this before, it’s one of the ways people are losing Global Entry.

Crystal Tadlock was given an apple as a snack on her Delta flight from Paris prior to arrival. She stuck it in her carry on bag figuring she’d eat it on her connecting flight to Denver.

Going through customs she was selected for secondary screening. An agent “pulled out the apple in the plastic bag with Delta’s logo on it.” She asked if she could just “throw it away or eat it,” but it was too late.

“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,'” said Tadlock to Fox 31.

Tadlock said the innocent mistake could end up costing her bigger than just the $500 fine – she could also lose her Global Entry Status, which allows pre-approved, low-risk travelers to have expedited clearance into the U.S.

Tadlock feels Delta shouldn’t have handed the apples out on the flight, or should have reminded customers that they can’t bring undeclared apples into the country. She says she plans to fight the fine in court. Good luck with that.

Delta for their part just says they “encourage our customers to follow U.S. Customs and Border Protection protocols.” Customs and Border Protection says “all agriculture items must be declared.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. True. it was an honest mistake. However, in this day and age of international travel, passengers must be vigilant in knowing the rules of flight. This is not Delta’s problem. Yes, the airlines could remind passengers about taking food off the plane; however, I think travelers have some responsibility too–especially if they plan to use expedited customs services such as Global Reentry. I am not sure that customs officials are responsible for making the ethical decisions about who knowingly broke the law and who did not. they simply enforce rule of entry.

  2. Put her on the “NO FLY LIST” for being such a jerk, really, trying to blame someone else for your mistake. Unfortunately, society is going that way.

  3. Everyone just loves a professional bully. What I hate about this article is the “good luck with that” snark and the complete lack of outrage cloaked in “I told ya so”. What’s missing is how unreasonable it is to have an honest mistake turn into a fine, how Delta doesn’t HAVE TO DO ANYTHING but it DID PASS THEM OUT….so it isn’t THEIR FAULT….but PERHAPS SOME SERVICE. (take three seconds to stop laughing)

    Welcome to the travel industry, where little people have big power to feel good about themselves via meaningless work. The fact that the lawyers latch on just makes it a bigger nest of parasites. It’s called discretion. Let’s try to use it. It’s not like she went to a farmer’s market and tried to smuggle it in. And they whine about passengers….ugh.

  4. U.S. CBP agents are not the rudest -I’ve been screened and insulted by Canadian agents and Chinese agents in Hong Kong. If you want rude, TSA in Charlotte NC are in the top five.

    I agree the title is a bit misleading, but the bottom line is “read the [damn] form and fill it out honestly”. Like another commenter, I declare pre-packaged crackers, granola bars, roasted nuts, dried fruits, and never have a problem. I once declared a $10 windbreaker I bought on a day-trip to Victoria, B.C. because I hadn’t prepared for rain. I guess I still remember an old episode of I Love Lucy when Lucy tried to sneak a whole salami in from Italy. She disguised it as a baby, swaddled in blankets, but Customs was too smart for her and as usual she lost the salami and almost got arrested.

    Too many of U.S. travelers are caught up in the entitlement game, thinking that rules at the airport and the border are for the “other” travelers, not U.S. of A. citizens. We’re special, and all those “others” need to toe the line or else.

  5. I think the question as asked on the kiosk was written by an idiot — or maybe over time (things added at re-write). An intelligent person would assume they are trying to prevent diseases getting into the US agriculture system from raw uncooked or directly from the farm items, so many assume that packaged cooked stuff is OK – germ free. If they wanted to make it clear and get more compliance, the only word they need is FOOD. Many of the other food items listed are sub categories of food. They don’t need “fruits or meats” because that is food. WHY HELL DON’T THEY JUST SAY FOOD!!!! I say the question the way asked is bad wording, bad order of items. Why the hell is food in the middle. FOOD BY ITSELF TAKES CARE OF several other items on the list. Part of the fault here is with CBP for bad wording. I give them an F on this. (Unfortunately they are the boss.)

  6. I am stunned by the lack of empathy from the comments on this woman’s mistake. Come on people, it was a simple mistake that I’ll bet the majority of us could make. Confiscation and a warning is all that is required here.

  7. This was completely Delta’ fault. They should have reminded passengers to either leave all snacks on the plane, or eat them before they hit customs. Of course they wont’ but Delta should pay that $500 fine.

  8. If someone is on the Global Entry Program they obviously fly a lot. Means that they know the rules or should know them at any rate.
    The second thing missing in the article is the totality of the conversation, Only the remarks of the agent are highlighted not the initial questions and responses. Most agents are people, and the way we treat them makes their responses almost predictable.

    More missing from the article than it contains, but that is the state of web article publications today.

  9. Do we know for sure, that this was a “French” apple? Could this apple not have been a left over from the US flight catering? If this is such a serious offence, should this not be posted all over the arrival and gate area, with the fine amount listed? The US may want to copy the New Zealand entry warning procedure, which has numerous opportunities to dispose of a food item, with a steady increase of urgency on the way to the agricultural inspector? The standard “no excuse accepted”
    fine is NZ 400, in serious cases can go to NZ 100,000 and 5 years in Jail.
    Also Airlines may want to reconsider offering a piece of fruit just before landing , as it is a natural instinct not to waste food, and to save it for later consumption.

  10. People here is still getting this wrong.

    This isn’t about it being a “French Apple.” This isn’t about it being a “minor slip up that should be forgiven.”

    As I explained above, this is because she’s a Global Entry participant. If she had done the same thing in the regular customs line, I’m guessing she wouldn’t have faced the same punishment. The reason is, as I said before, that by participating in the Trusted Traveller program you are promising that you will stay informed on all customs law and follow it WITHOUT BEING CHECKED. This is how they can offer you expedited screening.

    So, can you not see how the “I didn’t know it was against the rules” is a silly defense in this case? That would work for a regular traveler in the regular line, but not for a Global Entry traveler. She clearly didn’t read any of the material she was given when she signed up or understand how the Trusted Traveler program functions. For that reason, it makes sense that she would lose this status (since she’s proven that she can make such a minor error, what other errors is she making all the time when they aren’t checking her?)

    It’s baffling the failure of logic here by people who are ignoring this aspect of the story.

  11. Granted, anyone can make a mistake, but when you’re dealing with international travel, the onus is on you to be prepared. In essence, she lied on the form and that is not Delta’s fault or responsibility. Wonder if she is a millennial raised to always blame someone else to avoid responsibility for her actions.

  12. Here is just another example of wanting to blame others for OUR error. The point is not whether it was intentional or not. The question was asked and the person said NO. That would have been a great time to say ” I was given an apple on the flight back and do I have to answer YES on the question”. Quit trying to pass the buck on to others. It does not matter if it was a mistake or not. Those of you that cry about ” no empathy” are giving this passenger carte blanche here to SAY anything she wants. Who really knows if this person is just giving a whitewashed version of the events? Many of you are ready to give her a free pass and blame anyone or any other party here based on her say so. What if she WAS asked a second time if she answered all of the customs questions correctly? I have travelled internationally and I WAS given a second opportunity to correct any answers I gave.

  13. As my pappy always told me, “Ignorance of the law is no excuse”. Apparently she broke the law and now pays the piper.

  14. It’s her fault but the CBP should make it easier to remember.

    1. bold the word “food”, even make it a little larger type
    2. put a garbage can near the kiosk with a sign warning of no food

  15. @Derek, great suggestion. The word FOOD should be capitalized or changed to ANY FOOD. The list as it stands is terribly worded. It could qualify for an SAT question that said, which one of these words should not be on this list. Food is the odd ball word because it is a generalized catch all word. The others are all more specific. If they simply said FOOD, they could eliminate fruits and meats.

  16. Josh’s comment above is right on track. She should lose her Global Entry – and pay the fine. Anyone who travels a lot and especially is Global Entry means you understand what you click through – no FOOD is clear – it doesn’t need to be larger print.. it’s called compliance. I know when I did my interview – they stressed this. I am hopeful the courts don’t go lenient – secondary screening is to randomly make sure WE all follow the rules of our Nation’s CBP rules – it’s all for a reason. No pity.

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