Woman Who Lost Her Global Entry Over an Apple Delta Gave Her Fought Back and Won

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.

Six weeks ago I wrote about Crystal Tadlock taking an apple handed out as a snack on her Delta flight and sticking it in her carry on bag. She figured 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.

She had her Global Entry revoked as well. She blamed Delta, arguing they should have reminded customers that they can’t bring undeclared apples into the country.

Well the fine was dropped and she has her Global Entry back after reaching out to her Congressman’s office. (HT: Live and Let’s Fly)

Representative Ed Perlmutter (D-CO) said, “It didn’t sound right. It sounded excessive. I found myself kind of offended that there would be a $500 fine for an apple wrapped in plastic from Delta.”

He met with Customs and Border Patrol and the Department of Agriculture. And the executive branch dropped the fine and gave the woman back Global Entry.

Perlmutter believes the agency should have more discretion on whether or not to impose a fine. They already have total discretion.

Most readers believed that the woman broke the rules, rules against bringing agricultural products in the U.S. are important, and she should own that.

By the way the woman in question goes by ‘VeganQuesoHead’ on twitter.

If you think it’s fine to bring in food items provided to the airline that should be the rule, rather than offering greater discretion to border patrol agents to decide on their own whether to punish people entering the country.

The Congressman also thinks airlines should have to remind you when you’re getting off the plane not to take food with you if that’s going to be the rule. Because more mandates on airlines are the way to solve government policies he disagrees with.

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. I think you should be able to take fruits and food from the airplane with you. In fact I take food almost every time, I also declare it. Because the paper/machine (depending where you are) clearly asks if you bring any food item (fruits, vegetables, etc.). It doesn’t matter if the fruit was given to me by my grandma or by an airline, it’s a fruit and so it has to be declared. I have never have a problem with food at the borders.
    The only time I had to take secondary screening for declaring and telling the truth was when I was taking a ham sandwich from another country with the intent to eat it during my layover (I declared it, and got the option to eat it before passing the zone or leave it at their trashcan) ,the officers already have all the discression they need to act. It’s people who feel that they don’t need to declare items that make the problem.
    Also many airlines already have anouncements reminding people to declare all items needed and everyone tells you, if in doubt declare that you have and explain to the officer. It’s usually better to over declare and explain than to not declare and get fined/detained, etc.

  2. Every time I’ve flown Delta internationally they always announce not to bring food served onboard off the plane with you.

    And it’s not like it’s rocket science, either. The bitch probably has the IQ of a worm.

  3. In my experience, Delta and the other US based airlines do remind you that bringing fruit and other food products is prohibited on entry into the US. Whether people are too tired, jetlagged or “experienced” to not remember the admonishment may be another thing.

    A good rule of thumb to remember: “If in question, declare it”.

    In my experience, answering yes about food items results in an additional question from the CBP agent about what you are bringing and with permitted items, there is no delay.

    Global Entry and Trusted Traveler is a privilege well worth keeping.

  4. Well, I’m not an attractive blonde woman and I don’t think I’d have been able to sweet-talk my local congressman to lobby for getting my global entry restored.
    Just read the questions, and make sure you have no fruit.
    Other food can be ok actually, even though you’re supposed to declare it all.
    I have occasionally, and then show it to the officers and they usually let me go with it.

    When you have global entry, you are saying that you know the rules and will be a model traveler – so, don’t play dumb after you mess up. Pay the fine, show some contrition.

  5. @Jeff L – that repeats what’s in the article linked in the post, and summarized in the post, I’m curious what you think is ‘better’ about it (other than perhaps not liking my take?)

  6. Oh, you people. This is just like how no one likes lawyers until they need one. I _guarantee_ that all of the “hang her high” commenters would drag out their own arguments if, say, stopped for jaywalking, or speeding for 1 mph over, or, yes, forgot about a shrink-wrapped edible item in their carry on bag.

    Someone once said something about “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

  7. Rules are rules. If you disagree with them then work to get them changed. But how is this DL’s fault and why in the world would we need airlines to help us follow the rules? Might as well require your mom to call you to tell you to leave the apple on the plane. Congress either needs to start fixing the rules or they need to leave alone those who break the rules. It’s not rocket science…do you have any fruit? Yes or No. Easy.

    Sure, these rules are tough to follow sometimes. There’s a reason people overpay for a pineapple in the airport when leaving Hawaii…so they don’t have to worry about the rules.

  8. OK, fine rules are rules and ignorance of the law is no excuse but the punishment was excessive. $500 and loss of global entry for an honest, easy to make mistake? This wasn’t a case of someone deliberately trying to import 10 exotic snakes in their pants or anything. The agent should have just made her dump the fruit or at most given her a $20 slap on the wrist ticket and don’t do it again. There needs to be some common sense in the rules and punishments.

    As for work for getting rules changed that you disagree with, frankly there is no practical way for a private citizen to force the TSA to change ANYTHING. I am happy that this woman stood up for herself against an unjust punishment.

  9. “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,”

    One thing’s for sure, the customs agent was a total dick about it.


    I’m talking to you, J.C. with your misogynistic: “The bitch probably has the IQ of a worm.”
    and you Gus who oinks out: “Well, I’m not an attractive blonde woman and I don’t think I’d have been able to sweet-talk my local congressman to lobby for getting my global entry restored.

  11. Someone once said something about “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.” Thank you, ASDF.

    Readers: your grandmother is 78 and your grandfather is 80. They are celebrating their 50 the anniversary with aTATL cruise from Fort Lauderdale to Barcelona. On their return flight back to the US Grandma forgets about the little plastic bag of food she picked up as a snack in Portugal when her blood sugar got low, and she checks No on the form. And Grandpa is preoccupied with worry about the forecasted freezing rain, the treacherous drive from the airport to the house, and if he can handle it in the gloomy November evening. So: these people should be fined for a simple error? Where is the humanity in that?

    Gary, what kind of people are some of your readers, that they have this holier-than-thou, anal-retentive rigidity in their hostile attitudes toward others?

  12. But wait. Delta’s aircrafts are US registered, and thus have US nationality. Given that the apple was given to her on the US plane, she technically didn’t bring it to US – she made possession of apple while already being on US territory.

  13. Surprised that people with “the IQ of a worm” could get a college degree & know how to obtain Global Entry…

    Not sure why anyone has a problem with your congressman intervening for you as this happens all the time and if your congressman/woman doesn’t provide this service, you should kick them out of office.

  14. With government agencies, I prefer to err on the side of caution. Laws and administrative rules are subject to interpretation, with interpreters who can sometimes be arbitrary and capricious.

    There was a time when you had to speak to immigration, customs and sometimes an agriculture officer each time you entered the US. Must times, routine and other times……

    Thank you for Global entry and Trusted Traveler

  15. These rules were not made to inconvenience travellers but to protect the integrity and safety of the agriculture industry and the general population. It is well established that certain food products from other countries can transmit bio-hazards that are not easily recognized.

    If these rules are ignored or not enforced then there can be health and financial consequences for everyone involved in food production and food consumption. (that would be all of us)

    Preventing the spread of communicable diseases and protecting our farms from pests, parasites and other destructive micro-organisms should be in everyone’s inerests. Sadly this story provides ample illustration that the rules which protect all of us can be easily circumvented by applying a little political pressure.

    My view is that the ignorance or carelessness exhibited in this case should not have been rewarded by an exemption from the consequences of the law.

    For the ignorant and the forgetful among us, the good news is that help may be on the way. In the near future there will be new scanning technologies available that are able to detect the presence of potentially harmful food products (and other substances) being carried by people going across across borders.

  16. I understand that there are rules to protect the US from foreign fruits, but of course she didn’t ‘import’ any fruit. She brought it from the US to the US in a sealed package, so if there was a danger to US agriculture it was from dangerous American apples. But that means applying common sense and not being a jerk, both of which are tasks for which US customs agents are uniquely unequipped, if this incident is any evidence.

  17. Hi from Africa,

    It’s always so much fun to read nonsense like this from USA and to reflect on the endless stupidity of regulations enforced unevenly as well as ridiculously dumb people like this quesohead

  18. @Gary Leff. You say: “Customs and Border Patrol”

    I’ve written before but it is not, repeat, NOT Patrol, but Customs and Border PROTECTION> Different batch of people.

    Please, get your terms right for a change.

  19. For all the people like Grumpy Old Guy who feel ignorance is no excuse for not obeying the stated regulations, please remember that the regulations ask if you are carrying

    (a) fruits, vegetables, plants, seeds, food, insects
    (b) meats, animals, animal/wildlife products
    (c) disease agents, cell cultures, snails\
    (d) soil or have been on a farm/ranch/pasture

    under section (b) it can be interpreted that you have to declare your leather shoes or belts since they are animal products. So virtually everyone is in violation of the rules. I imagine Grumpy Old Guy would change his attitude when fined $500 for his shoes! The apple case is only slightly less ridiculous considering no harm or intent.

  20. Thanks for the update, Gary! I wondered about where it went… this Monday I was on Delta AMS-BOS and the purser made an announcement reminding the passengers about the customs requirement with particular attention to “apples” 🙂

  21. My wife and I declare every little bit of food, (a cookie, bar of choclate). A custom agent told me that if they do find any food items undeclared when using Global Entry, it will go on our record and we will be pulled aside for search each time. A friend confirmed that it did happen to him after his wife brought an apple !

  22. @Detroit Libertarian: “I understand that there are rules to protect the US from foreign fruits, but of course she didn’t ‘import’ any fruit. She brought it from the US to the US in a sealed package, so if there was a danger to US agriculture it was from dangerous American apples.”

    How do you know where Delta got the apple in the first place?

  23. +1 David. Gary, while I generally am opposed to bloggers deleting posts, you may want to implement some limits. J.C. calling her a “bitch” should not be allowed on an otherwise very professional site.

  24. I automatically expected the congressman to be Democrat.
    No way they can side with enforcing the law. Sad.

  25. @Tim,
    Grumpy old guy, like me WOULDN’T be fined for our shoes, because (once again) if in doubt, declare.

    The kind who follow SIMPLE rules because we don’t want to be fined, potentially jailed or lose our Global Entry privileges.

    On another note, that chick is pretty hot – I’d hit it, but I’d make her eat a 12oz. piece of medium rare prime rib first..

  26. CBP should just be abolished, or severely limited to narcotics and explosives. There is no reason to check food anymore. Stupid and pointless.

  27. Until this story came to light I’d never heard of this. I always bring food off the plane. While I’ve never brought fruit off a plane, I didn’t even know this was a thing. If I purchased the ticket, and the food is included in the ticket, isn’t it my food? It shouldn’t matter where I eat it. It’s also crazy how laws work in each country.
    I had family members, some returning to Canada, and others to the States from the Caribbean. The ones going to Canada loaded up on fruits from the Caribbean and had no issues bringing them into Canada. I guess I’m moving to Canada…

  28. Remembered an apple from lounge was still in my bag while walking to Global Entry machine. Showed apple to agent. Got held in waiting room for over an hour for “processing.” Missed connection.

    An hour+ and a missed connection over an apple??

  29. Wow, people. I’m shocked at the “she deserved it” replies. Maybe I’d feel differently if I hadn’t had an almost identical experience at ATL with a banana I’d grabbed in a lounge at LHR that I’d planned to eat and forgot I had. I still have the strike on my record. But, the very public dressing down, threats and fine (that I begged and talked my way out of after more than 45 minutes) was, as was this story, OUT of PROPORTION to the “crime.” I’m a rule follower and understand the point, but a punishment should be proportionate to the crime. The purpose of the rule isn’t to keep bananas from London or apples from DL out of the country–it’s to keep pests and diseases out. And a warning and slap on the hand is appropriate for the former violations. Next time one of you is 5 miles over the speed limit, 10 days in lock up for you. Geez.

  30. Not bringing in fruits and vegetables as well as meat products has been the rule forever and for good reason—many invasive and damaging pests have entered our agriculture and Horticultural systems that way. We don’t know where the apple originated. If this person had Global Entry, surely she was aware of this rule. So, it sounds as though she may feel she’s entitled to do what she wants. Regardless, while it likely would not have made a difference in this case if she felt so entitled, it’s hardly an unreasonable mandate to ask the airlines to announce this. They announce many things about entry on international flights. That said, the fine does seem excessive; the loss of Global Entry appears unduly harsh; the alleged comments of the agent sound as though he was on a power trip. She should have been fined but this was overkill. What is also overkill are some of the sexist and inane comments in this forum. Really, calling a woman a bitch and questioning her IQ levels? Suggesting that only a Democratic congressional representative would go to bat for a constituent because it’s about not enforcing the law? Honestly, where is the common sense on all sides?

  31. I just returned last night from two short flights each way taking me to northern Mexico. I found absurd the number of regulations, requirements, and jargon-laden nonsense.
    Please, don’t bring up specific minutiae about the spread of Estonian apple blight or Melania Trump’s family. There really are too many bits and details for ordinary people to remember who do not travel with an attorney and a wingman.
    On the short flight out of Phoenix, the cabin crew handed out “immigration” forms to all non-Mexicans. Ooops, wrong forms. Those should have gone to the returning Mexicans, NOT resident in the US. Announcement: everyone exchange your white form with someone who has the blue form. That didn’t work so well. OK, hand back all the forms. Now, if you are a US citizen resident in Mexico, with an FM2 or FM3 visa you need the pink form. If you have Global Entry, you do not need any of these forms in Mexico.
    [OOooops again, the Mexican customs agent said: in complete exasperation: “They NEVER get it right!” and proceeded to add more confusion with more details. She did fill out whatever-it-was form for me ]
    Speaking only as an American citizen: if some of our government employees did a decent job of assisting, versus blaming, targeting and playing power games, there would be much less stress, misery and contentiousness.
    “Well, it is about to get a lot more expensive” indeed. That is someone who should receive a public reprimand and perhaps also lose his job.
    As American citizens we can protest the attitude and approach of US Customs and TSA and other border and flight related agencies. These are public employees, not entitled cattle prodders.
    They are spending their time and our money on abusing our citizens. And, over and over they push the same old bill-of-goods about “protecting America.”

    IllegallyBlonde and BBK, enjoying being part of the death of commonsense and civility? Your contributions to that decline stand out.

  32. Papers Please. The older I get and the more I have the blessing to travel and see the world, I realize that my once beloved United States of America is nothing more than the Weimar Republic, Pre-WWII. You brought an apple off of the plane?!?!

    Not a political statement, as both major parties in good ‘ol USA are a corrupt joke and the Republic is gone.

  33. Food = KISS – Keep It Simple Stupid Something you put into your mouth . You eat it. That includes chocolate, candy, apples etc

    More like dumba$$ idiots who are not smarter then an 5th grader.

  34. Yeah, she broke the rules. Yeah, the Customs guy was an ass and thousands of dollars’ in time and effort was wasted on stupid pointless nonsense. Yeah, this was not DL’s fault.

    But would it be THAT hard for the airline to print on the bag: “DO NOT TAKE THIS FOOD OFF THE PLANE BECAUSE IT MAY VIOLATE IMPORT REGULATIONS.”?

  35. I try to be honest with everything so always declare food items I bring into the country which are usually chocolates. The only time I had a problem was coming back in to Detroit after a trip to Hungary. Everyone who answered “yes” on the entry form had to go stand to the side sort of like naughty children in a schoolroom and wait until everyone else had cleared from talking to the agents checking passports, etc. This took a long time. When I finally was able to talk to a customs officer, I was told my food items were fine and to go on through. Meanwhile, the friend that I was traveling with had cleared customs, returned her bag to the airline agent outside the door, and had been given a boarding pass for the next phase of our trip. When I finally came out of customs and gave my bag to the airline representative, I was told it was too late to get my boarding pass there but to continue on to my gate where it would be issued. My gate could not have been farther away unless they built an addition onto the terminal. I went there as fast as possible and found they were already boarding for the flight. The gate agent found that I had been locked out as my travel companion had already secured her boarding pass with the computer software evidently making the assumption that I wasn’t continuing on that leg. The poor gate agent was frantic in her attempts to get the computer program to respond. Finally a supervisor was summoned who figured out how to unlock it, print my boarding pass, and let me on the plane just as it was time for the doors to be closed for departure. My reward for honesty was to nearly miss my connecting flight.

    The only one I could fault in this situation was whoever decided that all who gave an honest “yes” answer had to wait until the end. It would probably have been easier on the customs officers, too, had they been able to talk to each of us as we finished filling out our forms and collecting our bags instead of waiting until all 20-30 of us needed attention.

  36. I once flew into Canada on United, carrying packaged crackers I always carry because I have medication / blood sugar issues, and with delays sometimes I need food when none is available in flight. I was grilled by a Canadian Customs officer about my crackers. In the meantime, a Canadian citizen walked through in the next line with whole roasted chickens he bought in the airport in Detroit in the original packaging which showed exactly what they were – no problem, no questions. I was forced to toss my crackers into the trash bin, he kept his chickens, presumably for dinner that evening. I followed the rules and lost my Keeblers – he followed the rules and kept KFC. Where is the fairness?

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