US Customs and Border Protection, ARGH!

“Woman fined $500 over ‘free’ Delta Airlines Apple”

A Colorado woman, Crystal Tadlock, was fined $500 by a US Customs and Border Protection agent and had her Global Entry status revoked for having an apple in her backpack while clearing customs after a flight from Paris to Minneapolis on Wednesday, April 18. According to a BBC report, and various interviews Ms. Tadlock has given since the incident, the apple had been given to her on a Delta Airlines flight. She had tucked it into her bag to save for the final leg of her journey from Minneapolis to Denver.

The fine issued by US Customs and Border Protection

I do realize that many far more terrible things have happened in the world since last Wednesday, and some would say this is no big deal. However, it’s the kind of government-overreach that just makes my head spin. Why can’t the USA have sensible and realistic customs regulations and train agents to treat passengers like fellow human beings?

With airlines constantly cutting costs by keeping services to the bare minimum, I think there should be some small allowance for personal snacks, regardless of customs regulations. Based on Ms. Tadlock’s Twitter account, she’s vegan. Is there no allowance that can be made for a traveler’s special dietary needs?

As a vegetarian with Crohn’s disease, I always carry my own snacks when I travel and depend heavily on them for my nutrition. I can’t eat the meat-based–and filled with preservatives–food that’s served on most airlines, with Turkish Airlines being an exception-yum.

US-based airlines flying within the continental USA only offer snacks for purchase–the kind of processed junk food that should only be considered a meal for someone already serving time on death row. To complicate the travel experience even more, it’s very difficult to find nutritious, vegetarian food while running through an airport terminal trying to make it to a connecting flight.

The Delta Airlines snack bag which contained the (now infamous) apple

Traveling often to points around the globe, I’ve become accustomed to having water confiscated at security checkpoints (even though it’s a waste of a precious resource as well as adding to plastic pollution!), but must I now also fear being caught and fined because of  possessing something as harmless  as an apple or the bag of home-roasted almonds I usually carry when I travel?

Based on many of my negative personal experiences I’ve had at American airports, I feel as if the US government doesn’t want it’s citizens to leave the country at all. Maybe Uncle Sam is pissed-off that we’re sharing our financial resources with other countries instead of buying more things we don’t need here in the ‘homeland’.

Many countries that have rare indigenous species, such as New Zealand, have very strict rules concerning anything organic that’s brought in by a traveler, but the customs agents are polite and in extreme cases simply confiscate food items. Most other countries are also more concerned about the soil you might be carrying on your shoes, especially if you’ve visited a farm while abroad. Such rules have valid reasons for being in place.

Delta apple was from France. I asked the customs agent how he knew it was 100% from France & not an USA apple, he never replied. representative later confirmed the apple I received was from France. Why are they handing out foreign apples?

Am I supposed to believe that the customs agent in Minneapolis actually thought this apple was a threat to American agriculture? For that to be true, we’d have to assume that every individual apple shipped into the USA (from Chile, New Zealand, France etc) is thoroughly inspected before they are allowed to be sold in supermarkets all over the country. Maybe this customs agent was just having a bad day, but issuing a $500 fine for such a small infraction of some innocuous code is ridiculous!

During years of traveling, I’ve never experienced anything like this abroad, nor would I (or should I) have to worry about experiencing it while entering my country of citizenship.

I’d like to hear from anyone else who’s experienced a situation like this in a country other than the USA.

peace~henry

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6 thoughts on “US Customs and Border Protection, ARGH!

  1. Interesting article Henry. You would definitely be fined at least $300 for bringing an apple into both Australia and New Zealand. They don’t give warnings anymore. Those days are gone😢.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve never been abroad, and am not a US citizen. But, I used to be unenthusiastic about going abroad for these reasons (now, I just haven’t made the chance). I totally agree with you! What’s the point of globalization if they couldn’t make reasonable rules and restrictions. Nice article, Sir! I hope you will never encounter anything like this apple predicament.

    Liked by 1 person

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